03 May Where is my respiratory diaphragm?
It does so much to keep us healthy and alive!
I describe it as our internal pump that helps everything move in the body. It doesn’t only draw air into our lungs.
The movement of the diaphragm helps us with circulation. In the image you will see blood vessels passing through it. Taking a few slow, deep breaths can help facilitate blood flow to our extremities.
Do you tend to get cold easily? Try taking a triple inhale with a very slow exhale. A triple inhale would be 3 quick consecutive inhales. You will feel your diaphragm bounce downward, as you are pulling air into your body. Just a couple of rounds of this breath will help you warm up! More about this is described below.
The diaphragm also acts as a support system. When moving well it connects the middle of us to the lower structures such as the lower back and pelvis.
The circumference of the diaphragm has the muscular portion… sometimes called muscle “slips”. The crura (2 bands of tendinous fibres) extend and anchor to the front of the low back vertebrae.
The crura join together higher up and create an arch around the aorta. As you can see effective movement of the diaphragm will influence circulation to your hands and feet. The centre of the diaphragm where the fibrous tissue spreads gathers into the a central tendon that blends with the heart sack (pericardium)
You might notice also there is an arch around the esophagus. Ever feel upset in your stomach from stressful situations? The movement here will influence your digestion because the esophagus leads to your stomach which is tucked under your lower ribs.
Often back pain can also be triggered by stress. This makes sense. When we are stressed out our breathing can dysregulate. A disfunctional breathing pattern will increase tension globally in the muscles and directly near your lower back.
The crura of the diaphragm can tug on the lower back. Also research shows that those with chronic lower back pain tend to have overall instability in the core area because the diaphragm sits too high and the floating ribs do not move (stress breathing).
I see this diaphragm pattern often in people who breathe through their mouth a lot. Oral breathing involves less effort and less pressure, therefore it does not drive the diaphragm and rib movements as effectively. Think of it as having low water pressure at your tap.
I think of my respiratory diaphragm as a crucial life giving, supportive, powerful mover of my health and vitality. We all have the power to move it, the way we need, when we need it.