The diaphragm is the second most important muscle in the body, second only to the heart. Yet the average person's diaphragm muscle is working at far less than 100% of its ability. Because the diaphragm is the pump that determines how much oxygen comes into our systems, anything less than 100% of normal function of this vital muscle means less oxygen to our brains as well as all our muscles and internal organs.
In my book, Your Inner Pharmacy, I explain more about the diaphragm and how its function can be improved to help you to be more healthy, whether you are an aspiring Olympic athlete, an average person with frequent heartburn, or concerned about and perhaps battling with dementia. I am including a few exerpts from my book that may get you interested in optimizing the function of your own diaphragm muscle....... Good diaphragm function is important for your health and vitality. Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, can be quite helpful. But the best antioxidant is oxygen itself. If you improve your body's ability to deliver oxygen to its own tissues, you reduce oxidative stress and tissue damage throughout your body and slow the decline in body function that occurs with aging.
While I recommend that many of my patients take antioxidant nutrients, I definitely want to optimize the vital function of their diaphragm muscle. I test for it in almost every patient, regardless of their symptoms, because I know that by correcting it, I have a good chance of helping their digestion, mental function, and overall energy and well-being.
One reason for the recent increase in diaphragm-related problems in younger people is that a sedentary lifestyle generally means more sitting, poor posture, and shallow breathing. Like any other muscle, the diaphragm must be used. I turn on the switch through treatment, and the patient puts in a fresh bulb by breathing properly and exercising. If we each do our part, the light goes on.
Dr. Blaich is an internationally recognized natural healthcare expert, both as a physician and a teacher. Dr. Blaich has recently released Your Inner Pharmacy, a book which bridges the divide between traditional and alternative medicine; showing how patients can receive the best from all modalities of healthcare. For more information on his book and his philosophies on health and wellness, visit www.yourinnerpharmacy.com.
Professionally, I am unique as a holistic physician, a generalist in the world of natural health care.
One of the greatest deficiencies of our medical and health care system is the lack of generalists, who look at "the big pictiure" with patients and then work to match the best form of treatment to the patient... View Full Profile
Amac's comments come from someone who is practicing some fundamentally great breathing techniques. My only added suggestion is to make sure you are really filling up your lungs from the bottom up, commonly known as abdominal breathing. Given his yoga background, it sounds like he must be.
I really want to make a distinction that may help people to better understand breathing and diaphragm muscle function.
Most people don't think of their diaphragm as a muscle, just like your biceps. Activating and exercising it makes it stronger. Yet, just like any other muscle, its function is greatly affected by the integrity of the nerve supply to the muscle from the nervous system. So many people have a "weakened" diaphragm because the muscle is being partly inhibited by their nervous systems, and it is one of the most comon causes of fatigue, poor digestion, and GERD. As I mention above in the quote from my book, Your Inner Pharmacy, it is like the light switch is off and someone is trying to light up the room by putting in a fresh light bulb.
You absolutely need a good light bulb, analogous to exercising a muscle, but it is also essential for the switch to be turned on. People very often need to have the switch "turned on" in order to have a fully functioning diaphragm muscle. Physical traumas that cause "the wind to get knocked out" of you, as well as emotional stresses and traumas, along with poor posture and sedentary lifestyles are all factors that commonly cause the "switches" to the diaphragm muscle to be "shut off".
Some chiropractors and most applied kinesiologists use very speciific procedures to reset the switches to the diaphragm and to free the motion of the rib cage, the cranium, and the muscle itself, which then allows for much more efficient diaphragm function.
Dr. Blaich, I sometimes wonder if I'm breathing right. I try to breath slowly and deeply throughout the day. In mornings and evenings I meditate for about half an hour. Some of the techniques I do might "exercise" my diaphragm. Wanted to get your opinion.
One breathing exercise I do is called "circular breathing." I breath in for 10 seconds, hold for 10 seconds, and release for 10 seconds. I do this 6 times.
I also do something similar, but I breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 1-2 seconds, and breath out for 5 seconds; I do this 24 times. With this one I use something called "Ujjayi Breathing." See: <url removed>.
For the rest of the time I try to relax, watch myself breathe, and still my mind (but it's really hard!). It's still relaxing though.
I got some of these techniques from studying yoga meditation and kind of modified them for myself. What are your thoughts on these techniques?
Dr. Blaich, I enjoyed your blog. I have started to be more proactve in my own health. And I know that the new health beverage I have started taken, has brought so much to my health, but I also know that I do not breath right, and that I hold my breath alot, which I known is a habit, hard to break. I will check out your website.
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