Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 7 - RESPIRATION: THE PROPER WAY TO BREATHE - By Mark H. Berry


The physical culturist has been taught to look upon the act of respiration, or breathing, in the wrong light. Not that we mean too great an importance has been attached to it, but instead of being taught to understand the true connection of respiration in relation to other functions, the physical culturist has been led to think of deep breathing as a direct means of invigorating and purifying the body. We intend to show you, and at the same time to prove, that quantity of air in the lungs which is continually being inhaled and exhaled does not constitute the act of respiration. Instead of taking place in the lungs, the essential processes of respiration take place in all the tissues and organs of the body. The act of breathing is merely one of the outer doors of the entire chain of acts comprising the function of nutrition. To make a comparison for the purpose of better understanding, we might say the respiratory act has a part to play in like manner to the work of the stomach. We know that the stomach prepares the food for complete digestion and assimilation in other organs, and though the gastric function as performed by the stomach is essential it is but one of the first steps in the nutritive function of the body.

In so far as the physical culturist is concerned, respiration must be considered essentially as a part of the complete function of nutrition. In other words, as one of the important parts of the business of furnishing the body with healthy material to take place of the old material broken down every second the individual is alive. The tissues must be relieved of carbonic acid and supplied with oxygen if life is to continue. The rapidity of this change is in proportion to the nutritive activity of the individual and the rapidity of the circulation of blood. The constant breaking down of the cells of the body forms carbonic acid. This breaking down of the cells is multiplied by muscular exertion, so that the more strenuous the exertion, the greater the quantity of carbonic acid formed, which must be expelled by the lungs.

Likewise the greater the quantity of oxygen which must be absorbed into the blood to carry on the work of repair to the body. The lung capacity varies with the sexes, the age, the health and physical condition, the stature and various other influences. There is a certain quantity of air present in the lungs after even the most forced expiration; that is know as Residual air, and cannot be expelled. Although the amount of Residual air varies with individuals, authorities have place the average quantity at 100 cubic inches, although it may vary from as low as 40 to well over 200.

In the ordinary act of respiration, a comparatively small volume of air is taken into the lungs with inspiration and expelled by the succeeding expiration. The Residual air remains in the lungs as a physical necessity to preserve them from collapse, which would result from the force of outside air, if the lungs were completely emptied. There is, therefore, no reason for considering the Residual air when computing the breathing capacity of the individual. In order to arrive at the figures which will denote the breathing capacity we must compute the air which can be inhaled and exhaled. Such figures, besides offering useful points of information, are of value here to give you a thorough understanding of the true value of ordinary breathing, which can be expelled but is only expelled by means of forced expiration. This is known as Reserve air, and which we will say for the purpose of illustration equals the quantity of the Residual air, or 100 cubic inches.

The amount of air changed during ordinary breathing amounts to anywhere from seven cubic inches in complete repose up to 75 or more cubic inches during excitement. On the average, this Tidal, or ordinary breathing air amounts to about twenty cubic inches. Then, when a direct effort is made to increase the volume of air in the lungs, thus when you make a violent or intense muscular effort, when you sing, blow, yawn, or sneeze, you temporarily arrest the act of breathing and make a very deep inspiration. The air thus taken into the lungs is know as Complemental air. The amount of Complemental air would, of course, vary with the degree of effort, but for the purpose of quoting figures we will say 100 cubic inches, or slightly more, may be taken into the lungs. Adding up the above figures, which we will suppose pertain a man of average height, we find during the act of ordinary breathing he has around 200 cubic inches of air in the lungs after an ordinary exhalation, and from 10 to 50 or more cubic inches additional after an ordinary inhalation.

The Extreme Breathing Capacity of the man is figured by adding the Reserve, Tidal, and Complemental airs, and not computing the Residual air, which cannot be changed. This would give us a figure of 220 or more cubic inches of air which could be taken into the lungs or expelled at the will of the individual. Bringing these figures down to something easier to understand, the amount of air which can be changed in the lungs would fill two boxes of about 4 3/4 inches square. Counting the Residual air in the total, the amount of air in the lungs would fill two boxes of about 5 1/2 inches square. Now note that the amount of air changed during ordinary breathing would fill two boxes as small as two or three inches square. The Vital capacity or Extreme Breathing capacity varies, not according to bodyweight or the bulk of the individual, but according to his height. For every inch in height between five and six feet, add eight cubic inches. Age also causes a variation, the capacity increasing up to the age of thirty and then gradually decreasing. Obesity also cause the Vital Capacity to diminish.

It must be understood that figures of this nature may vary greatly with individuals, but they give us some basis by which we may come to an intelligent understanding on the subject. A certain type of physical culturist will tell you to breathe deeply at all times, or the air will not reach the innermost cells of the lungs; and that shallow breathing causes disease by allowing the more remote lung cells to become inactive for want of air. However, physiology does not substantiate this idea, as the following explanation will prove--there is a certain physical fact, know as the law of diffusion of gases. When two gases or mixture of gases are brought in contact with each other, they quickly mingle or diffuse, until the whole mass has a uniform density and composition. This takes place even between light and heavy gases in opposition to the law of gravity. Due to this fact, the mixture of air in the lungs is at all times quite uniform, and the interchange of fresh air in the upper portion of the respiratory apparatus and the more impure air of the deeper parts is going on constantly. Still another point must be considered, which is that of the atmospheric air, being lighter than the carbonic acid saturated air of the lungs, penetrates to the deep portion of the lungs with greater rapidity than the latter ascends to the trachea.

An intelligent study of the respiratory act therefore reveals that instead of the gaseous contents of the air being completely changed with each inspiration, there is no such intermittent character connected with the oxygenation of the blood, such as attends the mechanical process of respiration. It is in the pulmonary vesicles that the interchange of gases with the blood takes place, and as the diffusion of gases is constantly going on, the air therein maintains quite a uniform composition.

Among physical culturists, arguments have been carried on, pro and con, concerning the correct method of breathing. Permit me to give a thorough explanation of my opinion, the same being the conclusion of considerable study on the matter. Some people advocate diaphramatic control, others argue about the part the abdomen or the chest should play in the act of breathing. We believe any system of thoroughly deep breathing can be correct, providing certain rules of healthful activity are observed.

Proper oxygenation of the blood is the prime essential. Other than that, the mere mechanical act resolves itself into accustoming oneself to certain muscular acts. If one exercises vigorously, the respiratory act is carried on unconsciously, but thoroughly. It is only those who attempt deep breathing without the proper degree of activity who must worry about the manner of breathing. It is essentially a false doctrine to teach that the respiratory function can be improved by deep breathing, if unaccompanied by the physical exertion.

The purpose of respiration or the act of breathing, is to supply the system with oxygen and relieve it of carbonic acid; the arterial blood is charged with oxygen, which it carries to all parts of the body, then after passing through the capillaries it becomes venous blood, loaded with carbonic acid, which it carries to the lungs to be expelled. Thus the lungs change the venous blood to arterial blood.

The chief physiological reason for a chest of great size is so that the individual will be capable of greater physical exertion; muscular activity causes a greater amount of carbonic acid to be expelled from the lungs, which means that a greater amount of oxygen must be supplied in order to properly purify the blood. Through training, we may accustom the respiratory function to furnishing an increased supply of oxygen, cause the chest to enlarge, and stimulate the vital forces to increased activity, thus promoting better health.

Three different types of respiration, or ways of breathing, may be recognized; The abdominal, the inferior costal, and the superior costal.

In the abdominal type, the action of the diaphram and consequent movements of the abdomen are most prominent. In the inferior costal type, the action of the muscles which expand the lower part of the thorax, from the seventh rib down, is most prominent. In the superior costal type, the action of the muscles which expand the thorax above the seventh rib and which elevate the entire chest is most prominent. It is true that all these muscles are used to some extent in every normal act of respiration; nevertheless, the action and control of each of these types is distinct. The abdominal type is most marked in children under the age of three. During childhood, the two sexes begin to show entirely different types of respiration. In the male, the abdominal, conjoined with the inferior costal type is predominant; in the female, the superior costal type predominates, while the inferior costal type is insignificant.

Without some effort to control the breathing in a different manner, the male continues to breathe mainly by the action of the diaphram and the lower part of the chest; but in the female the action is almost entirely confined to the upper part of the chest. It can be plainly seen that the abdomen will be greatly involved in normal breathing of the male.

A physiological reason can be given for the female breathing in this manner. It is a provision by nature to relieve the woman of abdominal pressure during the period of gestation.

Now to discuss the various muscles involved in breathing, or, to be specific, we will treat on those which control the movements of the chest cavity. Three distinct groups of muscles are involved in inspiration: those used in ordinary respiration, which have the strongest action; those which act as auxiliaries to the breathing; and the extraordinary auxiliaries, which act as muscles of inspiration only when the breathing is extremely deep or difficult: in the first group are the diaphram, the intercostals, the levatores costarum, the scaleni muscles; in the second group are the serratus posticus and trapezius, the pectrorals, and the serratus magnus.

In the male, in ordinary breathing, the most active muscles are the diaphram, intercostals, and the levatores costarum. In the female, breathing with the upper chest control, the scaleni muscles are brought into action mostly.

To consider the muscles controlling expiration: During the ordinary act of breathing, the predominating muscles are the internal intercostals, the infra-costals, and the triangularis sterni. During extremely deep breathing, other muscles must assist, as the external and internal obliques, the sacrolumbalis, and the transversalis.

The ribs are somewhat twisted upon themselves, and have a general direction forward and downwards; the first rib is nearly horizontal, but each succeeding rib is more oblique. It may be stated in general terms that inspiration is effected by descent of the diaphram and elevation of the ribs; and expiration by elevation of the diaphram and descent of the ribs. The ribs are raised by the action of the scaleni muscles and the intercostal muscles. The three scalene muscles are attached to the cervical vertebrae and the first and second ribs. The intercostals have two functions: the external intercostals raise the ribs and the internal intercostals lower the ribs: the former run forward and downwards from the back part of one rib to the front part of the next below; the latter run backwards and downwards from the front of one rib to the back of the next rib below.

The diaphram is by far the largest and most powerful of the muscles involved in respiration, so it seems reasonable that the act of breathing should be carried on principally through the action of that particular muscle. As the diaphram moves downward during inspiration, it is evident that the abdominal organs will be involved in the movement, so we must make room for this action by extending the abdomen.

Elsewhere, we go to considerable length to show the capacity of the lungs and the distribution of each type of air contained in the lungs. We wish to call attention to the fact that the quantity of air in the lungs, which is being continually inhaled and exhaled, does not constitute the act of respiration. To the contrary, the essential processes of respiration take place in all the tissues and organs of the body, and not in the lungs. Respiration is essentially part of the function of nutrition. The continuance of life is dependent upon the tissues being relieved of carbonic acid and supplied with oxygen. The rapidity of this change depends upon and is in proportion to the nutritive activity of the individual and the rapidity of the blood circulation. Carbonic acid is formed by the breaking down of the cells of the body, the same being multiplied by muscular exertion. Therefore, the more strenuous the exertion, the greater the quantity of carbonic acid which is formed and must be expelled by the lungs. Moreover, the greater the quantity of oxygen which must be absorbed into the blood to carry on the work of repair to the body.

The lungs are capable of holding a certain amount of air, the same varying with stature, age, health, physical condition and other influences, besides the sex of the individual. As we show elsewhere, the aeration of the blood has none of the intermittent character which attends the mechanical process of respiration.

The interchange of oxygen and carbonic acid is continuous. Ordinary breathing is carried on with more or less rhythm, from five to eight ordinary respirations being followed by one more deep and profound than the rest. This extra deep breath effects a more even change of the air in the lungs. This does not mean that the shallow chested individual oxygenizes his blood as well as the one who has a normally full chest. It is also obvious that we must breathe pure fresh air at all times if a normal condition of health is to be maintained. The shallow chested individual would not have sufficient room for his lungs to expand sufficiently to properly aerate his blood.

Certain facts relating to the respiratory act have been determined by scientific physiologists. From lengthy tests and experiments on thousands of subjects, it has been found that the extreme breathing capacity remains constant in an individual during health; as long as the individual remains the same physically, it is impossible to change the breathing capacity by practice or habit. The breathing capacity will be decreased by certain diseases, notably consumption: likewise with advancing age; and will also be decreased if the person becomes fat; but the capacity will remain the same as long as the physical proportions and state of health remain the same. Therefore, it is necessary to get at the thing in another way; causing the circulation and nutrition to become more active, thereby demanding a greater amount of oxygen, which is best accomplished by developing the entire muscular system and accustoming the physical organism to greater activity; the circulation and nutrition will both be stimulated to increased action. And, as we explain at another place, vigorous leg work creates the greatest demand for increased activity of the respiratory function.

Before concluding, we will repeat, you can accustom yourself through practice of any of breathing and it will be perfectly alright as the function of aerating the blood will undoubtedly be carried on in a normal manner, though it is quite evident that in ordinary breathing, a certain type of breathing is peculiar to each of the sexes. Certainly, it would be foolish for a woman to cultivate the practice of the bringing the diaphram and lower chest into predominate action; and in the same way it seems to us that for the male sex, the proper method of breathing under ordinary circumstances, is by the principal use of the diaphram, with the lower chest playing a minor part.

We have shown elsewhere that the amount of air normally inhaled and exhaled during ordinary breathing is comparatively small, but still sufficient to support the normal body functions. When a man, particularly an athlete, exerts himself vigorously, he is quit apt to breathe sufficiently deep, and you will soon find that the control is principally diaphragmatic, with the other muscles just mentioned carrying on their work; and in very forced breathing, the neck and shoulder muscles will do a good part of the work.

The sensible thing, if you to insure correct breathing, is to thoroughly develop the body and keep it first class working order by means of regular healthful exertions.

Iron Nation
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