Here’s a fun one, that I find absolutely fascinating. You have 4 diaphragms in your body! We all know about the common one, the Thoracic Diaphragm that lies under your lungs and helps vacuum air in and out of your chest. Today I’m here to show you that there are 3 more that are equally as important.
Your 4 Diaphragms represent your Central Cylinder, which is your bodies center for force production (aka strength) and stability. Most people address the big one, the Thoracic Diaphragm, today we’ll go above and beyond that to learn how your entire body, from your skull to your pelvis, are constantly moving with your breath.
Want to unlock more strength and stability in your body?
Keep reading 😉
Your 4 Diaphragms:
- Cranial Diaphragm
- Cervical Diaphragm
- Thoracic Diaphragm
- Pelvic Floor Diaphragm
Take a moment to watch this video and you’ll see where each of these are as well as how they work in unison to pump and move your whole body: (Don’t worry about it being in a foreign language, just watch how everything moves and works)
One of the coolest things you’ll notice right away at the start of the video is that these areas also correspond with Chakra points as well as Acupuncture Meridians.
Here’s the basic anatomy:
- Cranial Diaphragm: Bones of the skull, specifically the Sphenoid (front) and Occiput (back)
- Cervical Diaphragm: Tongue, Hyoid bone, Digastric Muscles
- Thoracic Diaphragm: Lower ribs, Thoracolumbar spine
- Pelvic Floor: Pelvic inlet
Pretty stinkin’ cool right?!
So now that you know where they are, what does all this mean?
So as you saw in that video (you watched it right? Seriously scroll back up and watch it if you haven’t yet) the 4 diaphragms work to move your body as you breathe. There’s a lot of good that this does for our body.
Movement of the diaphragms helps:
- Move and release compression on our organs
- Stimulate nerves and better our nervous system’s ability to communicate
- Help pump blood through the body
- Help move static interstitial fluid out of muscles
- Get the most out of each breath in and out
- This is huge because a lot of people don’t fully inhale and bring air into their lower lungs, as well as fully exhale and get static air out of their lungs
As you saw in the video they behave like a pump, we call it a Central Cylinder in biomechanics. This is where your strength is produced, as well as your stability since they are working in unison to power up your body.
Diaphragmatic Clinical Applications
If you have pain anywhere in your body, then you very likely have a diaphragm problem.
A bold statement, but think about it: the most natural movement that occurs in your body is breathing and as you saw your whole body breathes! A lack of movement in any of the 4 diaphragms throws your body into strength deficient & destabilized chaos.
Pain comes because your body will do it’s best to adapt and keep you alive even though it’s breathing rhythm is off. Your body’s best form of adapting is compensating, or finding strength elsewhere. If you Central Cylinder fails where do you think it will seek new stability? Areas that are supposed to be highly mobile (like your hips, ankles, thoracic spine and upper cervical spine).
In an effort to stabilize you, your nervous system will restrict and compress motion at your joints and tighten up muscles to restrict your movement (aka it’s fighting to keep you safe and stable). Pain then usually comes because these areas now have to overwork, all because your breathing rhythm is off.
Most doctors and treatment protocols only address the Thoracic Diaphragm, since most doctors know now that breathing is huge when it comes to rehabilitation of the body. This one is usually really constricted because the other 3 (Cranial, Cervical, and Pelvic Floor) are failing. Thoracic diaphragm gets the bad wrap even though it’s the one usually working the hardest out of the 4.
If you just get the Thoracic Diaphragm, the Cylinder is still in chaos. It’s important that all 4 be released and activated so that true strength and potential from your breath is unlocked. The ones that usually need manual therapy are your Sphenoid bone (Cranial) and your Hyoid Bone (Cervical). Once those two are moving you’ll notice a change almost immediately.
Diaphragmatic Wrap Up
Now that you are aware how you’re whole body breaths, the next logical step is to feel it.
Seated Cross Legged:
- Pelvic Floor: Feel a lift in your pelvis into your abdomen by feeling like your are pulling together your two Ischial Tuberosities (Sit bones)
- Thoracic Diaphragm: Feel your bell expand outward as you inhale, and back towards your spine as you exhale
- Inhale -inflate like a balloon, Exhale – deflate
- Cervical Diaphragm: Feel your breath roll through past the back of your tongue and how your upper neck moves and expands as you inhale
- Feels a little like you’re breathing into your double chin area
- Cranial Diaphragm: Feel as if your skull is a balloon and how your ears slightly move outward as you inhale and come towards each other as you exhale.
That’s not going to be easy to feel, you may just feel the Thoracic one. Chances are one of these diaphragms is restricted and if so will make it immensely difficult to feel how your breath influences the area.
Feel free to message me, comment below, or book an appointment above if you are interested in getting your body back to a normal natural breathing pattern. It’s dope you’ll find your pain melts away and your body gets a hell of a lot stronger.
A lot of strength and potential will come your way once your whole body begins to breath again.
- Fascia Anatomy & Movement – Joanne Sarah Avison