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The Most Important Core Muscle

Are you familiar with your deepest core muscle?  Undoubtedly all muscles are essential. 

Yet, when we look at the deepest core muscle, it has attachments to the: 

  • heart

  • liver

  • intestines

  • lungs

  • esophagus

  • some nerves

  • muscles of our back

  • other abdominal muscles

Along with being one of the primary muscles of respiration, the diaphragm muscle also works in conjunction with the muscles that help with stabilizing the spine, chewing, continence, sexual function, respiration, circulation, and more. 

Since this muscle does so many things, it seems important enough to take a closer look at it and help you make sure you are using it efficiently and effectively.

The muscle we are discussing today is your diaphragm muscle.  As you can see from the photo below, it is a dome-shaped muscle.  It is located inside your rib cage, just below your lungs.  It attaches to the inside of a number of the lower ribs, the breast bone (sternum), and some of the lower spine (lumbar spine).

When you inhale, the dome flattens, which helps pull air into the lungs; as you exhale, it returns to the dome shape.

This motion is also important for moving the organs of our abdomen for digestion, and it moves in conjunction with the muscles that work for continence and sexual function.

When your diaphragm moves well, it expands in a three-dimensional manner.  

Place your hands around your rib cage about 2-3 inches below the nipple line.  The bra strap is another approximate landmark.   Inhale and exhale a few times.  As you do this, do you feel your rib cage expanding equally all the way around, side-to-side and front-to-back?  Do you note a difference in the ability for the expansion to occur in certain areas around the rib cage?  Often, the client will report difficulties breathing three-dimensionally.  While this may be common, it is not 'normal.'

There can be many reasons the diaphragm does not move well or easily:

  • illness

  • tight muscles

  • history of surgery/injury

  • habits

  • posture

  • and more

Breathing is the most fundamental activity our bodies perform.  We breathe without thinking about it. However, we can also think about it and change our bodies significantly. 

As we stated earlier, the diaphragm is the deepest core muscle.  It lies underneath the commonly known six-pack muscles.  Unlike those muscles whose primary job is to move our body in certain directions, the diaphragm muscle has many roles when it comes to the health and movement of our bodies.

If our diaphragm is not moving optimally, we cannot maximize its role in our body, from breathing to the health of our spine and more.

If you would like to learn more about your diaphragm muscles and other deep muscles of your core, reach out.

Your body.  Your move.

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