Intercostal breathing is breathing into and filling the top third of the lungs, as in clavicular breathing, and then continuing to breathe into the middle part of the lungs.
Intercostal (“between the ribs”) breathing is accomplished by pulling up the clavicle, shoulders and torso, and then expanding the chest wall and ribs. Although many people breathe into their chests in this way, intercostal breathing is most common, and most easily seen, in athletes in the midst of competition. When you see a basketball or tennis player or anyone involved in an aerobic sport and their chest is heaving, that is an exaggerated form of intercostals breathing.
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