We pay a lot of attention to maintaining the health of certain parts of our bodies, especially the heart, lungs hair, nails, and skin, but how many people ever consider their diaphragm? Unless you have had advanced lessons in activities that focus on breathing, such as singing, swimming or playing wind instruments, you probably have not heard much about your diaphragm. Consciously controlling and exercising your diaphragm helps you breathe more deeply and to hold your breath longer which is key for the above mentioned activities as well as activities in which aiming is vital such as archery, target shooting and golf.
Did you know that your diaphragm is not only important for controlling breathing, but is also vital for your overall health? The diaphragm’s role in breathing also makes it part of the system that delivers proper amounts of oxygen to all the parts of your body. Without enough oxygen, virtually all parts of the body experience reduced performance and can even be damaged in the long run. One of the most noticeable side-effects of inadequate oxygen supply is a lack of energy. Sometimes, the real cause of lethargy and fatigue is simply not getting enough oxygen to the brain and muscles for them to perform at optimal levels. Any professional athlete will tell you that breathing right helps them play their best. Try this experiment: pick up something that you consider to be fairly heavy. If you try picking it up while holding your breath, you will find it more difficult than if you try picking it up while breathing deeply in and out.
An even less obvious, but no less vital aspect of the diaphragm is its effects on the digestive, blood circulatory, and nervous systems. Few people realize that the diaphragm is located not only under their lungs, but that it also separates the chest cavity (where the heart, lungs etc. are) and the abdominal cavity (home of the stomach, intestines etc.). The diaphragm extends from the front of the chest all the way to the spine and fills the rib cage below the lungs from one of your sides to the other. It is a broad, flattened, dome-like muscle that, just like any muscle in the body, can become weak and that can be strengthened with exercise, stimulation and proper diet. The diaphragm has holes in it that allow the esophagus, nerves, veins and arteries to pass through it. The muscle tissue that surrounds these holes squeeze the tubes, helping to control flow. In fact, symptoms of “heartburn”, upset stomach, and vomiting can have their root cause in a weak diaphragm that is not properly constricting the esophagus.
Perhaps you have heard of a condition called a ‘hiatal hernia’. This is a very painful condition in which a part of the stomach tries to squeeze through the hole in the diaphragm surrounding the esophagus. The side-effects of this condition can be confused with a stomach ulcer, heartburn, or gas build-up. Sometimes, it is even sever enough to seem like a heart attack. Typical treatments for hiatal hernia such as drastically reducing meal portions, sleeping in specific positions, and even surgery. None of these options are nearly as effective as improving the health and strength of the diaphragm muscle. Applied kinesiology techniques can help to strengthen the diaphragm muscles, thus treating the root cause of the condition.
Are you feeling weak or tired all the time? Have you had heartburn, acid reflux, gas bloating, or even symptoms of ulcers or a mild heart attack? If so, you need to see a holistic physician who specializes in applied kinesiology. The real cause of your symptoms may be a weak diaphragm.