What is the diaphragm?

The diaphragm is a large thin, muscle that divides the upper body in to two compartments. It is only a couple of millimetres thick, about the same as a towel.

The diaphragm stretches from the sternum, around the lower ribs and ends in the back. You could say that the diaphragm sits about the same place that a bra stretches around the body.

Despite its thinness it is very powerful. It has several functions and is also our largest breathing muscle.

The diaphragm also works even as a dividing wall and divides the upper body in two halves.

Outside the diaphragm is the chest. Here you can find the lungs, trachea, heart and esophagus. Under the diaphragm lies the stomach, intestines and other inner organs

The diaphragm helps to keep the organs in the right place. Without the diaphragm, for example, the intestines could slide up and lie beside the heart if we stood on our hands.

What is hiatal hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when the muscle of the diaphragm is weakened. The weakened muscle means that the diaphragm is unable to keep the stomach in its correct position. 

The stomach mouth should only slide up through the hole in the diaphragm when you need to vomit or belch.

An unwanted intrusion of the stomach into the chest cavity is usually due to a hiatal hernia and frequently leads to symptoms such as heartburn, reflux, thick mucus, a sensation of a lump in the throat and swallowing difficulties. 

Read more about reflux

Hiatal hernia is common. Many people do not seek treatment for their reflux problems making accurate estimates of prevalence difficult, but it is thought that over 20 percent of Europe's population are affected.

Can you train the diaphragm?

Hiatal hernia is caused by a weakened diaphragm, which leads to the question if it is possible to train the diaphragm?

The diaphragm consists of both voluntary controlled skeletally striated muscles and smooth muscle under the control of our involuntary autonomic system. Voluntary muscles can be trained by exercise, for example in the gym, or by training with IQoro.

The involuntary muscles (smooth muscle) cannot be exercised by normal exercise regimes. These muscles are only activated when they receive signals from the involuntary or autonomic part of brain.

Therefore, it is not possible to train the diaphragm solely with the ‘normal’ strength training exercises which only activate the voluntary musculature.

By training with IQoro, which is a neuromuscular training method, you can reach and train the smooth muscles too. With the help of neuromuscular training, the muscles and nerve pathways of entire natural swallowing process can be engaged.

Neuromuscular training starts from the lips and mouth and affects the entire chain of 148 muscles in the swallowing system. Nerve signals are sent from the brain down to the involuntary muscles of the lower esophagus, diaphragm and intestines.

Read more about how to train with the neuromuscular training device IQoro.

    

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