It is usually assumed that respiratory muscle performance is ample for most people undertaking endurance sports or who are active. Intermountain Health exercise specialist Jeffrey Beck says there are exercises which help expand the chest cavity to improve breathing. Beck suggests doing one set of ten repetitions of the following exercises every day to help enhance the flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the lungs, which will optimize breathing and promote thoracic expansion.
- From either a seated or standing position, raise your arms straight out to the sides, thumbs pointing upward.
- Exhale through the mouth as you bring your arms together out in front of you until your hands are about one inch from each other, being mindful of rounding the upper back at the movement's apex.
- Return to starting position as you inhale through the nose, arms wide and chest fully open by pinching your shoulder blades together.
- This constitutes one repetition.
Opening/Closing The Door:
- Place your left arm behind your back and extend your right arm out in front.
- Inhale through the nose while pulling the right arm back and twisting the torso in a fashion similar to pulling a door closed.
- Exhale through the mouth as you extend the right arm forward again while twisting the torso accordingly as though you were pushing a door open.
- This completes one repetition and can be done from a seated or standing position.
- Put your arms at a ninety degree angle out to your sides at chest level.
- Exhale through the mouth as you bring your arms together out in front of you, focusing on contracting the pectoral muscles at the movement's apex.
- Return to starting position by inhaling through the nose, fully opening up the chest cavity by pinching your shoulders blades together.
- That's one repetition and can be completed either seated or standing.