In abdominal breathing, also known as abdominal breathing, respiration is largely determined by a contraction of the diaphragm. The abdominal breathing ventilates a larger part of the lung than the chest breathing.

What is abdominal breathing?

In abdominal breathing, also known as abdominal breathing, respiration is largely determined by a contraction of the diaphragm.

During abdominal breathing, the diaphragm, the most important inspiratory muscle, is used. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle tendon plate that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity. On the side of the thorax, the diaphragm borders on the lungs and mid-pelvic space.

During abdominal breathing, the diaphragm contracts during inhalation. This means that the Musculo-tendon plate contracts and moves down towards the abdominal organs. The shape of the diaphragm changes from the dome to the cone. The abdomen bulges outward and the ribcage expands by a slight lifting of the lower rib margins.

By enlarging the thorax, a negative pressure is created in the so-called pleural cavity. The pleural cavity is a body cavity that lies between the two leaves of the pleura. The pleura is also referred to as a pleura. Between the two pleural leaves is the pleural fluid. It forms a fine liquid film on the leaves. Through this film, the two leaves adhere to each other. This can be compared to two panes of glass: If they are moistened with a little bit of water, these panes of glass can be shifted one on the other, but they can not be separated from each other.

A pleural disc lies on the chest, the other is on the lungs. Due to the expansion of the rib cage, the outer pleural blade is also pulled along. Due to the attachment, the inner pleura leaves follow and the lung thus expands as well as the thorax. The air pressure outside the lungs is greater than the air pressure within the lungs due to the resulting negative pressure. As a result, air enters the lungs through the trachea.

The breathing process is supported by the intercostal muscles. When exhaling, the diaphragmatic muscles relax again. The lungs contract and the diaphragm also returns to its original dome shape. The air is flowing out.

In contrast to inhalation, exhalation is a passive process. This means that in healthy people during exhalation, no muscles are actively involved.

Function & Task

About ten to fifteen times a minute, man breathes in and out. In exertion, the respiratory rate is increased. In this way, ten thousand liters of air pass through the airways every day. In the lungs, the red blood cells absorb the inhaled oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Oxygen is needed to gain energy in the body's cells. Without oxygen, body cells die within a very short time. For optimum oxygenation, sufficient air must enter the lungs. This only works if the entire lung is involved in the breathing process.

The tidal volume of abdominal breathing is higher than that of chest breathing. Tidal volume is the volume that is inhaled and exhaled with each breath. The product of tidal volume and the number of breaths per minute is called respiratory time volume. Only with the abdominal breathing the maximum respiratory time volume can be reached.

Breast breathing involves air exchange only in the upper parts of the lungs. The respiratory volume can thus not be exhausted. The result is oxygen deficiency. This manifests itself, for example, in concentration disorders and fatigue.

By lowering the diaphragm during inhalation, the digestive organs are pressed down. The protrusion of the abdomen ensures that there is no increased pressure in the abdomen. Nevertheless, the abdominal organs must move closer together, while the diaphragm presses on the organs from above. The abdominal breathing has a kind of massage effect on the abdominal organs. This promotes digestion. In addition, the return flow of venous blood from the systemic circulation into the heart is promoted by the abdominal breathing, because the pressure gradient in the chest cavity causes a suction effect in the inferior vena cava.

Abdominal breathing has a generally relaxing effect on the body. The blood pressure is lowered. Patients with panic disorders are therefore also recommended to conscious abdominal breathing. In addition, with abdominal breathing, the amount of air can be regulated much better. Singers, wind musicians and martial artists take advantage of this fact as a respiratory support.

Diseases & complaints

Especially in diseases and impairments of the diaphragm is a belly breathing is not always possible. If the diaphragm bulges in the direction of the thorax, this is called a diaphragmatic high. This may be due to diseases of the abdominal organs, such as by liver or spleen swelling or by lung malformations on the one hand. Even pregnancy, large tumors in the abdomen and even severe flatulence can push the diaphragm up. As a result, the diaphragm can no longer lower and an expansion of the chest and the lungs is only possible to a limited extent. The result is a so-called restrictive ventilation disorder of the lung, which leads to problems in breathing.

Also, adhesions of the pleura or pulmonary fibrosis can complicate the abdominal breathing. The same applies to a limited mobility of the ribcage. For example, scoliosis and a funnel chest do not allow abdominal breathing or make it very difficult.

The abdominal breathing is impaired even with a paralysis of the diaphragm. Diaphragm palsies are usually caused by paralysis of the phrenic nerve. It comes to a relaxation of the diaphragm. As a result, the abdominal organs are no longer pressed in the direction of the abdomen, but push in the direction of the chest and hinder the breathing there. Diaphragm palsies can be caused by surgery, pneumonia or liver disease.

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