Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, or deep breathing, is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. Air enters the lungs as the diaphragm strongly contracts, but unlike during traditional relaxed breathing (eupnea) the intercostal muscles of the chest do minimal work in this process. The belly also expands during this type of breathing to make room for the contraction of the diaphragm.
The use of diaphragmatic breathing is commonly practiced, especially in those patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to improve a variety of factors such as pulmonary function, cardiorespiratory fitness, respiratory muscle length, and respiratory muscle strength. Specifically, diaphragmatic breathing exercise is essential to asthmatics since breathing in these patients is of the thoracic type in association with decreased chest expansion and chest deformity[clarification needed] as a result of a deformed sternum like pectus excavatum (funnel chest); a shortened diaphragm, intercostals and accessory muscles from prolonged spasm causing stenosis of the major airways leading to an abnormal respiratory pattern.
Due to the lung expansion being lower (inferior) on the body as opposed to higher up (superior), it is referred to as 'deep' and the higher lung expansion of rib cage breathing is referred to as 'shallow'. The actual volume of air taken into the lungs with either means varies.
Deep breathing exercises are sometimes used as a form of relaxation, that, when practiced regularly, may lead to the relief or prevention of symptoms commonly associated with stress, which may include
- high blood pressure,
- stomach conditions,
- anxiety, and others.
Several disorders may cause abnormal abdominal motion during the respiratory cycle, including
- diaphragm fatigue or paralysis,
- increased expiratory airway resistance, and
- congestive heart failure.
Few homoeopathic medicine to be thought of for abnormal abdominal motion during respiratory cycle are: Spongia, Sticta, Squilla etc