The thoracic diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle separating the thoracic and abdominal cavity. The diaphragm performs an essential respiratory function, responsible for about 80% of the work in normal breathing. In addition to ventilation of the lungs, the diaphragm also has a mechanical effect on the organs of the abdominal cavity.
The diaphragm pump contributes to pressure changes, which encourages digestion and is involved in protective reflexes, including coughing, sneezing and vomiting. This protects the body from irritants and facilitates the removal of potentially harmful substances.
The diaphragm also serves an important function in postural stabilisation, providing support for the spine.
Conditions that may impair diaphragm function:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (CODP), emphysema and asthma, are conditions that lead to hyperinflation (air getting trapped) in the lungs.
Musculoskeletal symptoms contributed to by diaphragm and breathing dysfunctions are commonly seen by Osteopaths. This may include:
-Rib cage stiffness.
-Neck and back pain.
-Muscle tightness- particularly noted in accessory reparatory muscles including the scalenes, SCM, upper trapezius, intercostals and pectorals.
Tips for a healthy diaphragm:
✅ Limit foods that trigger heartburn or acid reflux.
✅ Eat smaller portions.
✅ See a physical therapist to get advice on how to improve your posture.
✅ Try to address stress and practice diaphragm breathing!
There are many different breathing methods and techniques to try. I will share some of my favourites in future posts ✌️