Breathing Movements





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Published on May 4, 2010

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Breathing Mechanism

Breathing consists of two phases, inspiration and expiration. During inspiration, the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles contract. The diaphragm moves downwards increasing the volume of the thoracic (chest) cavity, and the intercostal muscles pull the ribs up expanding the rib cage and further increasing this volume. This increase of volume lowers the air pressure in the alveoli to below atmospheric pressure. Because air always flows from a region of high pressure to a region of lower pressure, it rushes in through the respiratory tract and into the alveoli. This is called negative pressure breathing, changing the pressure inside thelunsg relative to the pressure of the outside atmosphere. In contrast to inspiration, during expiration the diaphragm and intercostal muscles relax. This returns the thoracic cavity to it's original volume, increasing the air pressure in the lungs, and forcing the air out.

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