Healthy breathing involves the harmonious interplay of the rib muscles, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm, as well as various muscles throughout the body. Unnecessary tension in the muscles of our shoulders, chest, belly, back, or pelvis—whether it is caused by negative emotions, physical or psychological stress, trauma, injury, or faulty posture—interferes with respiratory coordination.
Of all the respiratory muscles, the most important from the standpoint of our overall health is the diaphragm. Shaped like a large dome, the diaphragm functions as both the floor of the chest cavity and the ceiling of the abdominal cavity. It is penetrated by and can affect several important structures including the esophagus, which carries food to the stomach; the aorta, which carries blood from the heart to the arteries of all the limbs and organs except the lungs; the vena cava, the central vein that carries venous blood from the various parts of the body back to the heart; and various nerves with branches to internal organs.
It is the rhythmical contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm that animates our breath and plays an important role in promoting physical and psychological health. This pump-like motion creates a partial vacuum, which draws air into the lungs. When we inhale fully, the diaphragm can double or even triple its range of movement and actually massage (directly in some cases, indirectly in others) the stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, and kidneys, promoting intestinal movement, blood and lymph flow, and the absorption of nutrients.
~ from The Tao of Natural Breathing: For Health, Well-Being, and Inner Growth by Dennis Lewis (2006)
As you release muscle tension with professional bodywork at Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, you will come away breathing freer and deeper, creating more health for all the muscles and organs involved. It’s a natural phenomenon that happens when the connective and myofascial tissues are expanded and extended. Wishing you easier breathing as you prepare for your holiday festivities!