The Intrinsic Kinetic Chain is the first of Five Primary Kinetic Chains. If I may, I will use an analogy from the epic series by JRR Tolkien, it is: “one ring to bind them all.” This sums up the intrinsic kinetic chain. Breath is essential for survival. Breath is the barometer for vitality. Breath is intrinsically connected to the central nervous system.
The thoracic diaphragm is a striated muscle that is directly connected to the autonomic nervous system. As such, we are incapable of holding our breath to the point of oxygen deprivation. Survival reflexes will override and the body will issue instructions to contract the thoracic diaphragm.
The thoracic diaphragm acts like a bellows for the lungs. The rib cage, provides the support structure so that when the thoracic diaphragm contracts, intra-abdominal pressure changes. The pressure drops, and negative intra-abdominal pressure creates a void. That void is then filled with positive atmospheric pressure, filling our lungs with precious life giving oxygen.
The thoracic diaphragm works in partnership with the pelvic diaphragm. The thoracic diaphragm is a dome that faces upward. Contraction pulls the dome downward. The opposite is true for the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic floor is a dome facing downward. Contraction pulls the dome upward.
When we breathe, the domes of the thoracic & pelvic diaphragms move in sync. They move in the same direction, though one is in concentric action while the other is in eccentric. During the inhalation phase, the thoracic diaphragm is in concentric activation while the pelvic diaphragm is in eccentric. Both domes are moving downward. While the thoracic diaphragm is pushing the visceral contents of the abdomen downward, the pelvic floor provides the hammock that supports the viscera.
Restoring the proper sequence in breathing is often the foundation of the therapeutic process. As the mechanics of the breathing apparatus are restored, balance can return to the structural, physiological, and emotional components.