Located at the base of the lungs, between the thorax and the abdomen, the diaphragm articulates in the form of cupolas which go up and down. His role ? It allows the lungs to fill and empty with air thanks to its movements, and contracts, on average, 24,000 times a day.
Called “respiration muscle” or “breath muscle””, in particular responsible hiccups, the diaphragm is the major and primordial organ in the processes of inspiration and expiration. Thanks to its respiratory role, it acts directly on stress and digestion.
“The diaphragm is responsible for 75% to 80% of inspiration, the rest of which is devoted to the intercostal muscles. Exhalation is passive because it consists of the relaxation of the muscle, that is to say that the diaphragm returns to its original position”, explains Le Dr Camille Rolland-Debord, pulmonologist.
Although the diaphragm is the muscle of the breath, the so-called diaphragmatic breathing differs from the basic breathing. She “consists of breathe deeply and expand the lungs into the diaphragm rather than using the abdomen or rib cage alone,” details the College of Health Professions, in a study published in 2019.
A base of breathing that we must learn to tame, to finally breathe better: “the more we use our diaphragm, the more ample and deep the breathing, the more air we have in the lungs and therefore the greater our breathing capacity becomes. “, explains for his part, Séverine Vigier, physiotherapist.
Diaphragm: to reduce stress
“The respiratory muscles and the brain are connected. This explains why breathing plays on stress and then on hyperventilation: when we are in a stressful moment, cerebral control is modified and breathing becomes superficial, with lower volumes of air that enters the lungs”, specifies the head of the pulmonology department of the CHU of Clermont-Ferrand.
Thereby, a study published in 2017 and published in the journal Borders studied the stress-relieving effects of diaphragmatic breathing. The results of the researchers had put forward “the potential benefits of practicing diaphragmatic breathing to improve cognitive function and reduce the negative effects and physiological responses to stress in healthy adults.
Other research, published in 2019 in the journal JBI Evidence Synthesis, and bringing together three studies on the subject, had also pointed out the benefits of this diaphragmatic breathing on anxiety. These studies haddemonstrated that diaphragmatic breathing has a positive effect on stress reduction physiological and psychological.
The diaphragm to aid digestion
Beyond operating directly on our physical and mental health, by acting on stress through breathing, the diaphragm plays an important role in digestive healththanks to its many contractions.
“The abdominal contents lower when the diaphragm contracts. It plays a role in digestion because it massages the digestive organs”, explains Dr. Camille Rolland-Debord. “With my patients suffering from constipationwe work on their diaphragm since it is like a pumping at the intestinal level and that it makes work, with breathing, the digestive system“, says Séverine Vigier.
Multifunctional, the diaphragm also serves as a support during relaxation, meditation and sophrology. It also plays a role in expulsions and pain management, like childbirth, keeps the abdominal organs in place, “and is even in synergy with the perineum“, concludes the physiotherapist.
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The diaphragm, an often forgotten muscle that is essential for health
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