We often hear about the diaphragm , of indications on how to “lower it”, on how to perform the correct diaphragmatic breathing . But what exactly is the diaphragm?
The diaphragm is a muscle-tendon lamina that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal one and is structured in two domes, one on the right and one on the left .
The muscular part of the diaphragm connects to the sternal, rib and lumbar portions. The tendon part connects to the heart and colon .
This morphology makes us understand the importance of the diaphragmand its flexibility and how important it is to use the diaphragm correctly also to prevent very serious malfunctions.
A technically correct breathing provides an inspiration that comes from the abdomen , thus producing a bulge in the belly, which then deflates when exhaling.
When breathing is of this type, therefore abdominal, the diaphragm comes into play and is lowered, allowing a greater amount of oxygen to be taken in.
The inhalation act thus activated stimulates the elasticity of the diaphragm , the abdominal muscles, massages the belly and warms the lumbar portion of the back, helps the sternal and costal expansion.
When breathing is so deep, the upper muscular structure also relaxes, neck , shoulders and trapezius are relaxed.
Phonation thanks to the use of the diaphragm is significantly improved , it is deeper, strengthened and does not force the throat and vocal cords.
Singers who practice abdominal breathing exercises every day to improve their performances are well aware of this.
In yoga , abdominal breathing plays a primary role and is applied with awareness because it helps muscle relaxation , body warming, concentration and mental relaxation.
Breathing is the most natural and vital gesture that belongs to every human being, but it can be affected and diverted by many conditions – including pathological ones – that modify its functional structure.
Often conditions of anxiety and stress prevent you from breathing correctly: breathing stops at the thoracic level and involves a short inhalation, a continuous lifting of the shoulders that are put in tension together with the neck muscles. The abdomen is not expanded and consequently does not receive a muscle massage and the lumbar portion and belly remain less elastic and cooled. The diaphragm is not so stressed
, does not go down or gets stuck down and the domes reduce their elasticity.
The diaphragm retracted
When the diaphragm is not used correctly for prolonged times, it undergoes functional changes .
It is thus defined diaphragm retracted , or shortened, with the domes lowered and the ventilatory capacity limited and can cause many disturbances.
The stomach could be compressed , with digestive dysfunctions, slowed venous and lymphatic circulation, the spine blocked in the lumbar portion, the accessory respiratory muscles of the shoulders and neck will have to take over the thrust of the diaphragm with possible muscle tendon inflammation and neck pain.
And this is just a taste of the consequences of an alteration of the diaphragmand its functionality.