Other than your heart, this is the single most important muscle when it comes to keeping you alive. It literally draws breath into your lungs by contracting down from its central tendon (or crura 🤓) that attaches directly to the vertebral column.
You can think of the diaphragm in its resting state like an open umbrella ☂️. Contracting its muscle fibers turns the umbrella inside out - drawing it down toward the central crural attachments. This creates a pressure vacuum that draws air into the lungs.
Ideally the diaphragm should be doing most of the work when you breathe. When it contracts, the space within the chest cavity expands, creating a relatively low pressure environment relative to the outside air. This causes air to rush into the lungs - expanding the ribs and stretching the soft tissue around them. When these tissues reach their limit, elastic recoil then causes them to contract, the ribs to collapse, and the lungs to empty effortlessly.
The diaphragm also plays an integral role in expressing emotion (crying) and in bracing against percieved threats. If we have unprocessed emotional issues and/or are under constant stress, the diaphragm can become stuck in a state of chronic contraction. This forces accessory muscles to overwork to try to expand the ribcage and draw air into the lungs. If you feel yourself straining to inhale and overusing the SCM or other muscles in the neck, it is likely that you need your diaphragm treated as well.
HOW TO TREAT:
Try lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Hook your fingertips gently around the bottom of your ribcage and let them sink softly into the tissue as you breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Try to sink deeper and further under the ribcage with each exhale. This area might be tender so go slow and ease into the discomfort. Don't push it. Repeat in sections along the bottom of the ribcage.
If you've been treating your SCM and not getting great results, try treating it again after releasing the diaphragm and see if you don't notice a big difference afterwards. - 1 hour ago