What in the World is Diaphragm Balancing?


The transverse diaphragms in the body are connective tissue and fascia that run transversely (basically horizontal) in the body and are perpendicular to common myofascial planes that run longitudinally (vertically).  Most people know of the thoracic/respiratory diaphragm that is responsible for breathing.  However, there are three other main diaphragms that exist in the body.

The diaphragms of the body:

  1.  Cranial – responsible for maintaining pressure in the cranium and controls the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through the ventricles of the brain.  It is located at the junction of the skull and upper cervical spinal segments.  
  2. Cervical/thoracic outlet – composed of the tongue, muscles of the hyoid bone and scalene muscles in the neck.
  3. Thoracic/respiratory – major respiratory (breathing) muscle of the body. Coordinated contracting and relaxing of this diaphragm causes normal breathing.   It also controls pressure between the thorax (which houses the heart and lungs) and the abdomen (which houses all the digestive organs) and is a major stabilizer of the spine.  
  4. Pelvic – controls pressure between the pelvis and the abdomen.  It consists of the pelvic floor muscles and fascia.


It is a coordination of all these diaphragms that contribute to a proper rhythmic breathing pattern, as well as being fundamentally important to proper function of the nervous, circulatory and metabolic systems.  Therefore, if there is an imbalance or restriction in any of these, it can contribute to irregular breathing patterns as well as likely dysfunction throughout the body.  In an effort to stabilize and keep you safe, the body will compensate by restricting motion at joints and tightening muscles.  Tense postural muscles often result.


Balancing the diaphragms involves a gentle compression to the proper area, thus allowing the tissue to relax and the motion to become coordinated again.  For example, the doctor may place her hand under the baby’s back and on top of the baby’s belly in a particular spot and apply an ever so gentle hold to restore the integrity of the thoracic/respiratory diaphragm.  Depending on the degree of the restrictions, this can occur relatively quickly or may take multiple sessions to fully resolve.  Parents may be instructed on how to reinforce this at home.