Everybody Has One and It’s Time To Use It!
By Michael P. Mansfield AAS, LMT, CNMT
Yes, everyone has an opinion. However, that is not what is being inferred with the title. This article is referencing the fact that everybody has a diaphragm. Yes, the diaphragm. A skeletal muscle connected to the entire circumference of the ribcage and several of the lumbar vertebrate. Its chief function is to lead the breathing process of the body.
There are 3 types of muscle tissue that comprise the human form
- skeletal (Voluntary – the ability to move at will, controlling movement of the body)
- cardiac (heart – involuntary/autonomic or functionally independent; not under voluntary control.)
- smooth (blood vessels, arteries, and hollow organs – autonomic, or functionally independent; not under voluntary control.)
The diaphragm is a voluntary muscle. Simply put, if not used on a consistent basis, this muscle becomes weak. If the diaphragm is tight and weak from lack of proper use, it will hinder the function of the psoas. To illustrate this conundrum, tightly squeeze the top of a bicep (acting as the psoas) with your opposite hand (acting as the diaphragm), flex the arm a couple of times, noting the restriction of movement. Now relax the grip and flex the bicep again. There will be a considerable difference in movement, demonstrating how muscles with different jobs can profoundly affect each other.
Over time, this imbalance in the lumbar region can lead a chronic pain pattern. If the psoas becomes tight and weakened due to injury or lack of proper use, it will affect the diaphragm through inflammation, ultimately restricting breath – supporting the pain, spasm, pain cycle.
Inflammation of the muscles attaching to the lumbar vertebrae constricts the nervous tissue responsible for providing energy to the lower body, decreasing blood flow/oxygen available to the spastic tissue. This constriction manifests as pain and dysfunction. Diaphragmatically (belly) breathing relaxes the diaphragm, reduces the pressure placed on the psoas muscles, increases circulation and blood/oxygen levels, and ultimately maintains balance of the abdominal and lumbar region.
Compression of the vagus will trigger a fight or flight response. The brain senses there is something wrong with the body when this occurs. The vagus nerve descends off the brain, directly behind the large neck muscles, attaching to the esophagus, and travels through the diaphragm to the abdominal cavity.
Chest/shallow breathing constricts the vagus at the neck and diaphragm. When the brain senses the constriction the adrenals are brought into play to assist the body get out of its present predicament.
If the brain senses the body to be moving during the restricted breathing/vagal impingement, it will sense the body it attempting to move away from danger and adrenalin will be the primary hormone produced by the adrenals to assist in this function.
If the body is sedentary during the same scenario, the brain will sense the body is ill or injured, and the adrenals will primarily produce coritsol. The function of cortisol it to mobilize fat stores for energy (the body is ill or injured and food is not available) so the body does not use vital muscle tissue for energy.
Even though humanity inhabits a universal, human form, the human form is very much misunderstood by humanity.
The diaphragm is the primary respiratory muscle which DIRECTLY affects every system of the body. Not properly utilizing this muscle leads to small imbalances, leaving the body susceptible to a myriad of pathologies, and leading to more serious conditions .
Use your free time to learn more about how your body works, freeing up more time to enjoy how your body works. Stop, BREATHE, and BE!