Don’t Forget Your Thoracic Diaphragm

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As the main muscle of breathing, the diaphragm is inextricably linked to our life force and thus, our emotions and energy.

It is a dome-shaped muscle located at the bottom of the ribcage. When the diaphragm contracts the pressure within the thoracic cavity is lowered, enabling air to enter the lungs. When the muscle relaxes the air is expelled thanks to increased abdominal pressure.

As you breath in, you should see the stomach slightly rise as the diaphragm contracts and compresses the abdominal organs. As we breath out, both the chest and the stomach lower. This is what you usually see in young children and animals without stress.

However, it can be quite the opposite in adults due to the effects of prolonged stress or ‘holding’ the abdomen in for too long to flatten stomach. Not using the diaphragm fully results in a reduced intake of oxygen, by only partially expanding the lungs. It can also cause weaker core stabilisation.

Over extended periods, breathing in this way may cause the diaphragm to be very stiff and results an alteration in its performance, from a respiratory as well as a biomechanical perspective.

Osteopathic treatment to release the diaphragm improves its mobility, relieving the tension within the surrounding structures and allows better breathing. Some benefits include improved digestion, feeling more relaxed, having more energy and better sleep.

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