The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the thorax and abdomen. It is a dome-shaped membranous structure, but has a central tendon that is muscular.
It has many essential roles in the normal functioning of our bodies. As you already know, the diaphragm is the most important muscle for breathing. When you inhale, the muscle extends downwards and increases the thoracic cavity volume and allows the lungs to expand.
The diaphragm is actually part of the trunk core muscles. In fact, the central tendon of the diaphragm attaches to the lumbar spine.
The body has core muscles (inner/tonic/slow-twitch muscles) that function to stabilize the joints and global muscles (outer/phasic/fast-twitch muscles) that function to move our body. important core muscle.
The core muscles that deep stabilize the joints, which allows the more superficial global muscles to move our body in a smooth and safe manner.
The inner stability provides a foundation or a base that allows efficient movement to occur. Therefore, the diaphragm being part of the trunk core muscles, also has a critical function to stabilize the body and help maintain proper posture.
Furthermore, the diaphragm supports the organs with its connective tissue attachments. Organs such as the heart, stomach, and liver all have a direct attachment to the diaphragm, thus influence each other.
With respiration and the motion of the diaphragm, all those organs will also move to help with its excursion. This movement also assists in providing circulation of blood and nutrients to the organs. An average adult will move their diaphragm with respiration about 20,000 times per day. Implying the number of times its pushing and pulling on those organs.
The diaphragm either consciously or unconsciously is responsible for 70-80% of the respiratory activity. If a person can use the diaphragm efficiently, they will be able to breathe diaphragmatically.
However, if one cannot use the diaphragm efficiently, they will be more of a sternal breather, which is a type of breathing pattern that overuses the muscles around your chest, neck and shoulders.
This can lead to tightness and pain in the shoulder and neck and also affect your posture. Plus, diaphragmatic breathing is the most efficient way to take up oxygen in your body so a sternal breather will not allow oxygen to sufficiently be distributed to the tissues of your body.
Furthermore, diaphragmatic breathing influences your autonomic nervous system facilitating your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to relax and heal your body and facilitates digestion.
The diaphragm is made up of muscle tissue; therefore, can get tight, restricted, and weak. At FuncPhysio, we use manual therapy to directly palpate and treat the diaphragm.
We also educate in specific ways to train the diaphragm by way of exercise and breathing. If you have questions or if you are interested, please contact FuncPhysio.