Between the ribs you have muscles which are called the intercostal muscles. Ribs are the bones surrounding the lungs to protect them from the injury, hence engaging the intercostal muscles will expand your chest, causing lungs to expand and pull the air in. However, using these muscles alone is not wise from the perspective of body’s energy expenditure – it requires a lot of effort, and is used when the sympathetic nervous system is activated (the fight-or-flight) to get more oxygen.

To remind you once again, everything in the body is connected in a feedback loop, and since you will breathe with the help of the intercostal muscles when you are in stress (to fight or flight), the use of these muscles in other states may also stimulate sympathetic nervous system, leading to emotional disturbances.  

How to breathe then?

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