Ever been to a yoga or a meditation class and hear the instructor asking you to breathe through your stomach? I knew that breathing through your stomach was beneficial to your health in that it was supposed to help you relax and be a happier person overall but never truly understood the logic behind little known muscle called the diaphragm. After much thought and ruminations, I have now learned why this specific action can have long lasting health benefits! There are two BIG reasons why this type of breathing is beneficial to your health. In this post, we will discuss how it helps your internal organs.
First, let’s look at this dome shaped muscle that sits beneath the lungs. It is chiefly responsible for aiding in the expansion and contraction of the lungs for proper breathing. Within this muscle, there are many blood vessels from the heart along with two major nerves that travel through it. The two nerves that come through diaphragm have important, unique roles to the body. One of the nerves called the phrenic nerve, controls the function of the diaphragm (expansion and contraction of the lungs). The other nerve, very vital to human living, is called the vagus nerve. This nerve, considered the longest cranial nerve, beginning from the brain comes through the neck and the diaphragm, connects to all of the internal organs of the body. This nerve is the essential link between the human brain and the rest of the body i.e. it helps with the proper functioning of all internal organs of the body!
Since the diaphragm is a muscle, it performs optimally when it is in its natural relaxed state. It is also in this state that the muscle can stretch to its fullest and further enhance its own functions. Simple way to look at it is, if the diaphragm is stretched and functioning properly, the internal organs work at its peak because the vagus nerve is not impinged. If we look at the opposite, if the diaphragm is malfunctioned due being weak and stiff, the vagus nerve is pinched and the rest of body functions below optimally.
Unfortunately, due to our current state working and studying environment, the diaphragm is often constricted and became non- flexible. Many office and school desk/ work environments having improperly sized furniture and equipment causing many people to develop a ‘forward flexion’ posture where the neck, the shoulder, chest, and upper back is curved forward. Added to this, people with these postures tend to ‘slouch’ when they sit and walk with their feet flared outwards.
With the ‘forward flexion’ posture, since the upper half of the body is curved forward, the diaphragm is in contracted position making it very difficult to fully expand. When this occurs, the vagus and the phrenic nerves are pinched, limiting it to function properly and/ or optimally especially in the assistance of the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the diaphragm also has an important role in the absorption of oxygen intake to the body, specifically in how we breathe. It is responsible for the expansion of the lungs. When the lungs are limited in their expansion, the heart rate increases causing cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure.
Fast Relief Acupuncture has a very safe and effective treatment protocol in assisting/ guiding the body to naturally fix its posture along with the functional improvement of the diaphragm. The treatment consists of properly aligning the patient’s body along by releasing/ relieving any restricted muscles that can hinder a patient from standing upright. It is gentle, effective, and importantly can have long lasting results without the use of chemical substances or invasive surgeries. Call today and get back into the game FAST with Fast Relief Acupuncture!
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