Breathing entails the movement of oxygen from the atmosphere into the lungs and the movement of carbon dioxide from the lungs out of the body to promote adequate oxygenation of the blood and cells. However, breathing does not only involve simple inhalation and exhalation since there are certain techniques in breathing such as shallow and diaphragmatic breathing and the maximum oxygen intake depends on the breathing technique used.

Shallow breathing and diaphragmatic both aim at inspiring oxygen and expiring carbon dioxide, but different muscles are used to promote lung expansion. This article discusses the difference between shallow and diaphragmatic breathing and what technique is optimum for cellular oxygenation.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing involves the utilization of the diaphragm in order to promote maximum lung expansion and it is otherwise known as deep breathing technique. The diaphragm is a muscle located between the chest and the abdominal cavity and it descends during diaphragmatic breathing in order for the lung to expand. When this happens, the diaphragm presses into the abdomen expanding the belly outward. Due to this, it is also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing.

In diaphragmatic breathing, the expansion happens in the abdomen rather than the thoracic cavity or the chest when the person inspires. Diaphragmatic breathing is considered a focused breathing technique and can be used as an alternative remedy for certain ailments. Diaphragmatic breathing as a deep breathing technique can be used to provide temporary relief from pain, high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, depression, headaches and other discomforts. Diaphragmatic breathing was also seen to benefit those who want to lose weight because it allows better focus. It was also seen to provide maximum relief from asthmatic conditions. As a form of relaxation, it can also be used as a regular stress reduction measure along with other stress reduction techniques.

In order to do diaphragmatic breathing, breathe deeply through the nose focusing on enlarging the abdomen in every inspiration. Hold your breath for two seconds and exhale through the mouth.

Shallow Breathing

Shallow breathing, as opposed to diaphragmatic breathing involves the expansion of the chest during inspiration rather than the belly. Shallow breathing aims at drawing minimal amount of air into the lungs by the use of the muscles in between the ribs (intercostals muscles). This makes the chest rise and fall in every inspiration and expiration.

Shallow breathing tends to be involuntary and people usually are unaware that they are using this type of technique. Since diaphragmatic breathing usually requires focus, people often use shallow breathing throughout the day. Shallow breathing can also be a form hyperventilation or rapid breathing since minimal amount of air goes in and out of the lungs making the ventilation more rapid.

While most people use shallow breathing unknowingly, it can also be a symptom of various conditions such as depression, anxiety, asthma, panic, shock, pneumonia and other lung conditions. When shallow breathing continues, it can lead to build-up of carbon dioxide in the body leading to increase in the acidity of the blood.

Looking into the differences between shallow and diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing technique is more optimal and beneficial for the body. Spend some five minutes hourly to employ diaphragmatic breathing to optimize ventilation.