呼吸にも筋肉がはたらく呼吸筋のメカニズム

無意識で動いている呼吸筋

人間は生きていく上で必ず呼吸をしています。呼吸とは新鮮な酸素を体内に取りいれ、不必要な二酸化炭素を体外に放出する大切な役割があります。自然に行っているような呼吸でも当然のように筋肉を使います。この筋力が低下すると呼吸は浅くなります。呼吸のメカニズムと呼吸筋についてみていきます。

呼吸のメカニズム

呼吸は大きく分けて2種類あります。胸式呼吸と腹式呼吸です。女性は筋力が少ない分胸式呼吸が得意で腹式呼吸が苦手と言われています。(腹式呼吸により下腹部を圧迫することで子宮に負担がかからないように腹式呼吸を避ける傾向があるという説もあります。)それぞれの呼吸のメカニズムを見ていきましょう。まず、前提として肺は陰圧になっています。外部よりも圧力が低いのです。肺は常に押しつぶされている。陰圧の肺に酸素を送る為、呼吸筋を使い胸郭を広げているのです。ちなみに眼球も陰圧です。目が外圧に押しつぶされないように眼圧というシステムで調整されています。このバランスが崩れることで緑内障などの病気を起こすといわれています。

胸式呼吸のやり方

胸式呼吸では肋間筋という筋肉を使います。肋骨は鳥かごのような形をして胸郭を作っていますが、呼吸の際わずかに広がったり閉じたりを繰り返しています。肋間筋は外肋間筋と内肋間筋の二種類あり、外肋間筋は外側から肋骨を繋いでいて肋骨を広げる役割があり、息を吐く時に必要です。また、内肋間筋は肋骨を内側から繋いでいるため肋骨を閉じ、胸郭を縮める作用があります。息を吐く時に働く筋肉です。また、胸式呼吸は自律神経の交感神経を優位にします。交感神経はカラダを戦闘態勢にする神経なので、頭がすっきりし適度な緊張感を与えます。

腹式呼吸のやり方

腹式呼吸の中心になる筋肉は横隔膜です。横隔膜は胸郭の下端に位置し、肺と胃や腸などの臓器を分ける境界線になっています。横隔膜が収縮することで陰圧である肺が膨らみ外部から酸素が入ってきます。なお、腹式呼吸は自律神経の副交感神経を優位にしてリラックス効果を高めます。
参考までに横隔膜をはじめ、心臓・肝臓や胃・腸などの内臓も筋肉で出来ています。腕や足を動かす骨格筋と同様に内臓なども同じ筋肉ですが、構造が少し違います。骨格筋は横紋筋と呼ばれ、自分の意志で動かすことが出来ます。対して内臓は平滑筋と呼ばれ、自分で動かすことが出来ません。

呼吸筋の筋トレのやり方

筋トレの基本は筋肉に負荷を与え、その負荷を乗り越えることによってより強い力を発揮することです。よって、呼吸筋の筋トレはより強い呼吸動作をすることで鍛えることが出来ると言えます。まずは深呼吸を深くする練習をします。椅子に座ります。胸に空気を吸い込むように鼻から大きく息を吸います。限界まで息を吸い込んだら5秒静止します。そのままゆっくり息を吐きます。つぎに椅子に座った体勢で口から大きく息を吐きます。限界まで吐き終わったら5秒間静止します。この動作をゆっくり10回行って下さい。つぎに座ったまま両手を上に上げ万歳の姿勢を取ります。この姿勢のまま先ほどと同様に深呼吸をします。手を上に上げることで胸郭が広がるため、より深く息を吸えると思います。しかし、胸郭が広がっているため息を吐く時は肋間筋を使うトレーニングになります。ここまでの一連の動作で胸式呼吸に必要なトレーニングが出来ます。腹式呼吸には横隔膜や腹筋といった筋肉も必要になります。仰向けに寝ておなかに手を当てます。おなかに息を吸い込み、乗せた手を上に上げていきます。腹式呼吸は副交感神経を優位にする効果があるので、就寝前の落ちつた時間帯に行うのがいいでしょう。

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