Little is heard of the diaphragm. And it is a real shame because it is one of the most important muscles for our well-being, involved in dozens of essential functions for our health and serenity. What is the diaphragm
The diaphragm is a muscle with a shape similar to a small dome, which divides the abdominal part from the thoracic part. Its conformation is anything but regular, higher on the right due to its proximity to the liver. However, it should be emphasized that in our body there are also two other diaphragms: the pelvic one and the tentorium of the cerebellum. What is the diaphragm for
The thoracic diaphragm, as mentioned, is essential for our breathing. But not only that: a good functioning of the diaphragm can also help us reduce anxiety and stress. The father of osteopathy Andrew Taylor Still attached such importance to this little muscle that he wrote: “Through me you live and through me you die. In my hands I have the power of life and death, learn to know me and be serene ».
Diaphragm Anatomy – Nerthuz Shutterstock The connection between diaphragm and cervical
The diaphragm develops already in the embryonic stage. To be precise, the entire dome originates from particular structures that start from the third and fifth cervical vertebrae. It is no coincidence that often many operators in the sector – such as osteopaths – trying to allow a good diaphragmatic functioning also solve the pain and contractures of the cervical tract. Diaphragm and autonomic system
Another reason why the well-being of the diaphragm is equivalent to ours is that it is directly connected with the vagus nerve. This means that there may be implications for the respiratory, digestive, cardiac and nervous systems. It is no coincidence that the diaphragm has direct relationships with the heart and lungs, but also with the stomach, spleen, liver and kidneys. Diaphragm and posture
The diaphragm is also directly connected with our posture. Depending on whether it tends to remain too high or too low during the breathing phases, accentuations of the lumbar or cervical curve may be highlighted. We also remember that from the posterior portion of the diaphragm several fleshy bundles depart which intersect with the first, second and third lumbar vertebrae. It is also common to have sciatica problems due to the stiffness that the diaphragm can cause in the lower back.
Breathing and diaphragm | Akinnboaz Shutterstock Diaphragm and oriental philosophies
Anyone who chews a bit of Ayurvedic medicine, yoga or oriental disciplines knows that our body is believed to be pervaded by a sort of energy wheels, called ‘Chakras’. One of these is connected to the diaphragm and is called the Solar Plexus Chakra. According to some theories this Chakra is involved in the affirmation of one’s self, and is associated with calm and self-esteem. When the diaphragm is blocked or malfunctioning, the Chakra can undergo alterations resulting in excessive shyness, fatigue and digestive disorders or, on the contrary, the person could always be angry or angry, agitated and have a tendency to develop gastric ulcers. How the diaphragm works
When it contracts, the diaphragm lowers allowing the lungs to fill with air (inhale). We also use the diaphragm for thoracic or clavicular breathing, but not in the same way. For this reason – even if erroneously – when we talk about abdominal breathing we often say diaphragmatic breathing.
How the diaphragm works – Designua Shutterstock You are breathing well
If everything works regularly, during a breath we use almost all the diaphragm and a small percentage also the accessory respiratory muscles (in the order of 20%). Most people, however, do not breathe properly using more accessory muscles than the diaphragm. The consequences of a malfunctioning diaphragm
Since the diaphragm is connected with many organs, when it does not function regularly it can lead to many physical and mental disorders. The first of these is anxiety, but also stress, fears and depression. Other common ailments are lumbar and cervical pain and contractures, posture defects, gastric disorders and constipation. The benefits of a properly functioning diaphragm:

  • Better heart function
  • Better functioning of the digestive system
  • Lower risk of constipation
  • Greater tissue oxygenation
  • Better breathing and physical endurance
  • Lower risk of anxiety and depression
  • Better sleep quality

How to improve diaphragmatic breathing
Among the most common techniques, often used in yoga, is pranayama. It is a set of breathing techniques that aim to make you breathe in the correct way, thus inducing relaxation of an individual. But not only: if practiced daily it can show a reduction of many related physical ailments such as digestive problems, the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. To feel better: the diaphragm massage
It is possible to perform a simple self-massage at the diaphragmatic level: if done correctly, within a short time you will have the sensation of breathing better. To do this, all the fingers of the hand – except the thumb – are used, starting below the costal margin and moving towards the abdomen. Five minutes is enough, two or three times a day. The ideal is to perform the massage in the supine position.
Unlock the diaphragm. Exercises

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