esther m palmer

your breathing diaphragm

The Breathing Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a muscle. It looks like this from underneath:

Diaphragm inferior view

Diaphragm inferior view. Image by OpenStax, CC BY 4.0

And like this from the front (sort of):


Lung and diaphragm

Lung and diaphragm. By National Cancer Institute, Public Domain

And from the side, "e" is the space where the diaphragm lives, between the lungs + heart above and the abdominal organs below.

Body cavities from the side

Body cavities from the side. By OpenStax from the Textbook OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology Published May 18, 2016 CC BY 3.0

What does the diaphragm do?

The diaphragm is a big player in making air come into and go out of your lungs. It flattens down when you inhale and domes up when you exhale.

When the diaphragm flattens down, it removes force on the lungs, thereby decreasing the pressure in the lungs to less than atmospheric pressure, and air rushes in to make up the difference (fill the empty space).

When the diaphragm domes up, it pushes on the lungs, thereby increasing the pressure in the lungs to greater than atmospheric pressure and air is pushed out to bring the pressure back to normal.

Breathing action with core + diaphragm

Breathing action with core + diaphragm. By cruithne9,CC BY-SA 4.0

The diaphragm is contracting (or doing work) during the flattening down action. It pulls its center tendon down towards its peripheral tendons on the spine + ribcage.

The diaphragm is releasing (not doing work) during the doming up action. It releases the pull on its central tendon to return to its original relaxed position.

Diaphragm action

Diaphragm action by SportEx

This is of course the simplest version of what happens. In practice, it is quite a bit more complex with several more players determining how you breathe.

Want to practice breathing with this new information?

Inside the podcast episode (coming soon) is the full story on the above outline and several guided breathing practices to help you apply the information and make it usable practical knowledge.

Practicing with you,

Thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear them.

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