Exploring the diaphragm muscle
The diaphragm muscle is unlike any other. In essence, it attaches onto itself. Typically, a muscle attaches from one bone to another bone. It then usually moves the less stable of those two bones (depending on circumstance) toward the more stable bone when it contracts, but not the diaphragm. Its contraction creates a large pattern of movement in the rib cage, abdominals, and of course inflation of the lungs.
What does the name diaphragm muscle mean?
The word diaphragm comes from several Greek words:
- dia, which means across
- phragmos, which means a fence
- phrassein, which means to enclose
You could get the idea, then, that the diaphragm encloses something. It does, in the sense that it divides the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity.
Where does the diaphragm muscle attach?
The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. It has three openings: the esophagus, the inferior vena cava and the aorta.
It originates on the L1-L5 vertebrae, the lower 6 costal cartilages, and the xiphoid process.
It inserts onto the central tendon of the diaphragm. In other words, it inserts on itself.
What actions does the diaphragm muscle do?
The diaphragm does most of the work during breathing. As it contracts it flattens, pulls on the lungs, and creates a negative pressure to allow more room for air to fill the lungs.