Respiration and diaphragm
If when breathing you put a hand on your stomach and you feel that your abdomen doesn't swell, you probably have an altered respiration. Don't worry you are like most of the population that breath with the chest (non physiological breathing).
In normal conditions we should inhale using the Diaphragm, while exhaling should occur passively, except when respiration is forced then the abdomen muscle is used.
An incorrect respiration tends to make us breath mainly with the upper part of the ribs and to block the inhaling process (in other words we almost never exhale completely).
In this way the diaphragm is blocked and the other “accessory” muscles (sternocleidomastoid, scalene, the pectorals, the latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, levator scapulae and the trapezium) have to do all the job that the diaphragm is normally supposed to do.
This causes a retraction of the diaphragm because it's not used enough, but also a retraction of the other muscles due to overuse.
Considering that most of this muscles connect with the neck, they can cause cervical pain. In fact these muscles, that should practically only be used in case of physical effort, have to work much more than what they are supposed to and this is due to poor posture.
The diaphragm is a thin double-domed sheet of muscle between the thorax and the abdomen, the right side is in relation with the liver and the left side with the stomach and the spleen.
The diaphgram connects with the sternum, the ribs and the lumbar area.
The diaphgram has a direct connection with the psoas muscle and the loin area muscles.
Based on their retraction we can have an outward or inward turned pelvis, with a potential set of problems.
The diaphragm is also connected with the heart and the colon; it also has orefices where the aorta, esophagus and the inferior caval vein pass through.
The main issues caused by a retracted diaphragm
- respiratory problems (asthma, false emphysema)
- digestive problems (poor digestion, hiatal hernia, constipation, gastritis)
- phonation dysfunction
- gynecological problems (connection diaphgram/perineum)
- poor circulation (it has a fundamental function as venous return pump)
- low back pain ( connection of the diaphragm to the lumbar vertebras)
- worsen the posture
In addition to that, it allows the stimulation of the digestive and evacuative functions.
Therefore we can imagine how important the movement of the diaphragm is. Let's imagine someone going through continuous stress, his diaphragm reacts with an incorrect contraction and what can happen if this anxiety becomes chronic?
It happens that the diaphragm doesn't inhale and exhale properly, so this muscle connecting the abdomen to the chest and also to the pelvic diaphragm, can't function correctly and creates an obstruction in the area, reducing blood flow and the senses directed to the reproductive system and the legs. It could cause digestive issues as the visceras are not properly “pressed” and lead to constipation issues.
As previously mentioned, the diaphragm can also have an effect on the liver and the spleen so an altered function can slow down the toxin elimination process and lymphocite production, thus weakening the immune system. Undoubtedly the diaphgram alone cannot block organ activity but its alteration may create annoying consequences.
Diaphragm and posture
A non functioning muscle will induce an overload on other muscles, the same does a non properly functioning diaphragm, that will overload other muscles that consequently will alter the posture.
Respiration done through other muscles than the diaphagram will create a chronic tension on these muscles, mostly exhausting the trapezium that has an important role in chest respiration.
Being solicited more than 10.000 times a day, the trapezium muscle develops a painful contracture, that with time will create pain, stiffness, nerve compression, finger pain and tingling and even headaches.
If the diaphragm is overstimulated, it will become less elastic, negatively impacting the lumbar area of the spine therefore altering postural balance.
So from one side the diaphragm's pillars have an effect on the lumbar area, and from the other side they impact the cervical and back area, therefore we can imagine the impact on our spine and posture.