The role of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor;
The diaphragm is a thin skeletal muscle that sits at the base of the chest and separates the abdomen from the chest. The diaphragm attaches to the ribcage and influences the rib cage movement.
The pelvic floor is composed of muscle fibres of the levator ani, coccygeus muscle, and associated connective tissue which span the area underneath the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles attach to the pelvis and influence pelvic movement.
So, if you move the ribs and the pelvis, you will influence the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles.
A common activity that many struggle with is getting their socks on first thing in the morning.
This requires almost maximal rib cage depression and retraction, hip flexion and posterior pelvic tilt which will require the diaphragm and pelvic floor to mobilize towards the end of their natural ranges.
During everyday basic movements, one would ideally like the diaphragm to lengthen and the pelvic floor to shorten, the help glute max and transverse abdominis to naturally contract concentrically.
A sensitized respiratory system affects the diaphragm's ability to lengthen.
When one appreciates the impact of previous injuries/stresses specifically in regards to the diaphragm and pelvic floor, periods of long stress ( issues at home, work or traumatic events ) non physical stressors are equally as important to understand as physical stresses.
Chronic emotional stress and increased mental load can alter the way the respiratory system works in several ways;
The increased respiratory drive is essentially evidence of the body’s readiness for action and will more than likely be in ‘fight or flight’ mode which is known as the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system.
An example of this is someone hyperventilating which produces a quick inhalation ( shortens the diaphragm ) and a very short exhalation ( very little diaphragmatic lengthening ).
Now the impact is that of rapid breathing/timing as your brain just wants to keep you alive.
The body will now rely on various muscles (including scalene, sternocleidomastoid, pec major and minor, serratus anterior and posterior and latissimus dorsi )
When these muscles overload ( because they are being overused ) the head takes on that ‘forward head position’.
Hyper-arousal brought on by mental and emotional processes contributes to allostatic load, and affects the capacity of the body to maintain its stability and response to change.
The body’s physiological processes adapt to the demand and this respiratory rate becomes the norm.
When one see’s similar reactions occurring when someone is in pain through the various systems
( musculoskeletal and respiratory ), this becomes even more interesting.
Anticipation of forthcoming physical and emotional events, has a distinct effect on increased respiratory rate thereby, reducing the time of exhalation and changing the respiratory pattern. This is the ‘perceived’ threat.
This increased heart and breathing rate will decrease heart rate and breathing rate variability. We ideally want to be able to access as much variability as possible when needed.
To learn how to train your breathing patterns to do this, call me.