Breathing and the Diaphragm

Breathing. It’s something that we do unconsciously at every moment, most of us believing that it’s the lungs carrying the load.  So it may surprise you to learn that there is actually an underlying sheet of muscle and tendon that is essential in the breathing process. This “sheet” is known as the diaphragm. It works by contracting and lowering as you breathe in, allowing space for your lungs to fill with air, then as you breathe out it relaxes, raising back up and forcing the air back out again. It also acts as a barrier between your chest and abdominal cavities.

The diaphragm doesn’t just play a role in breathing, it can actually have an influence on many other seemingly unrelated areas of the body, including the pelvic floor, and can even cause that confusing sharp pain in the shoulders that runners commonly experience. Which is why it is so important to contact a professional if you’re having physical issues, but you can’t quite pinpoint the cause. Especially if they’re a bit strange, and seemingly unrelated!

Our Naturopath at 13th Beach Health Services will use their skills and experience to help boost your overall health and wellbeing and offers treatments for Breathing Dynamics. 13th Beach Health Services will endeavour to provide you with the best possible health solutions. Give us a call today on (03) 5254 2668, book online or drop in to one of our clinics on the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula, and see how we can help you with your seemingly unrelated health problem!

These are some of the more common symptoms relating to the diaphragm that most of us have experienced at some point in our lives. They include:

  • That lovely “stitch” in your side when exercising
  • A band of pain around the middle of your back
  • Sharp pains when breathing in deeply or exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort around the lower chest after eating, or during pregnancy

The diaphragm is also involved in the actions of coughing, sneezing and vomiting, which is why your chest may become tight and sore after a lengthy period of illness.

Another fun fact – hiccups occur when your diaphragm goes into spasm, causing those rhythmic motions in the chest! The “hic” sound is the result of the vocal cords closing suddenly, following a contraction of the diaphragm.

As the diaphragm is largely muscle, it too needs to be utilised and strengthened in order to work effectively. Some regular slow deep breathing exercises are a good place to start. For more advice on how you can better support your diaphragm, so it can support you, contact the friendly team at 13th Beach Health Services and make an appointment with Tim our Naturopath in Barwon Heads. Please call us on (03) 5254 2668 or book online today!

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