How can we define breathing? For some, it is the gas exchange between oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). For others, it consists of one of the essential functions of the living being or simply an involuntary movement. These definitions are all true. Inhalation and exhalation are rhythmic, spontaneous and unconscious movements that make the breathing apparatus a life machine.

Types of breathings

There are two types of breathings: Thoracic breathing, which is a breathing performed with the upper thorax, superficial and inefficient. The other, the diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, is deeper and will increase the diameters of the rib cage, so a better oxygen supply. This type of breathing has more benefits than thoracic breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing is recommended in physiotherapy, as the diaphragm, the main source of inspiration, is a constant and permanent solicitation muscle. So, the lack of flexibility of its tendon can cause a forced breathing which will put in tension the accessory musculature. Incidental inspirers are supported at the vertebral, cranial, scapular and sternocostal levels and may be related to pain in these areas.


Posture also plays a very important role in respiratory biomechanics. Indeed rounded shoulders, having the head forward, a bent trunk and the relaxation of the abdominal board, for example, cause strains in the respiratory muscles and a decrease in the chest expansion.

A physiotherapy assessment would be important in determining inspiratory and expiratory muscle shortening, chest mobility, respiratory pattern and posture. According to your condition, different physiotherapy techniques will be used to help you: rehabilitation education on respiratory biomechanics, manual therapy, diaphragmatic loosening maneuvers, relaxation and mobility exercises. Cardio-respiratory physiotherapy is also recommended for acute and chronic heart and respiratory diseases. Other disciplines can also bring many benefits such as relaxation, meditation and yoga.

Do not hesitate to consult one of our physiotherapists if you feel you have problems breathing.