A diaphragm spasm can be a disturbing, sometimes painful sensation that can disrupt the regular rhythm of your life. The good news is that there’s a remedy at your fingertips! Self-massaging your diaphragm isn’t just a simple, easily accessible method of relieving tension from the comfort of your home, but it’s also an amazing way to reclaim the freedom of your breath, boost circulation, and endow a feeling of lightness and comfort to your entire body. This small but powerful technique can become your secret weapon in the battle for health and wellness!

Let’s start right away: use your index and middle fingers on each hand, combine them to make four fingers. Place these four fingers under the xiphoid process. The xiphoid process is the area where your ribs meet at the bottom. For many people, you’ll find a small protruding bone here, but if you don’t have it or can’t find it, that’s okay. Simply find the area where your ribs meet and place your fingers just under it.

Apply pressure at a 45-degree angle inward and upward, as if you’re aiming for a point between your shoulder blades. This is important – you need this specific angle. Applying pressure at another angle will not be so effective. Push until you can’t go further. Many of you may feel a pulse here – that’s perfectly normal. It’s the pulse of your aorta. It’s good when it pulses, and problematic when it stops pulsing.

Next, push as deep as you can and hold the pressure. Take a breath. If you feel discomfort during your inhale, it indicates a diaphragm spasm that needs to be addressed. So once again: apply pressure, hold it, and inhale. If you experience discomfort, hold your breath for 3-5 seconds, maintain the pressure, exhale, and then take a smooth inhale again until discomfort. Endure, hold for 3-5 seconds, and exhale. Keep practicing these inhales and exhales until the point no longer causes discomfort, effectively working through the spasm.

Addressing Diaphragm Spasms: Understanding Pain and Practical Remedies

When working to alleviate diaphragm spasms, you might find that pain arises not only at the point of pressure but may also radiate to different parts of the body, such as downward, upward, into the shoulders, ribs, back, or even the head or throat. This is a symptom and should not be considered normal. If you experience this radiating pain, it is likely a sign of a diaphragm spasm, and it needs to be addressed.

Practical Remedies at Home

Not everyone might find it comfortable or convenient to use their fingers for self-massage. Some may have weak fingers, a bloated abdomen, manicured nails, or other reasons that make the process uncomfortable, painful, or inconvenient. Luckily, there are accessible tools that can be used to overcome these challenges:

  1. Using a Bottle:
    The principle remains the same: locate the same pressure point under the xiphoid process and use the neck of the bottle, holding it at a 45-degree angle, slightly twisting it and applying the same pressure. If there’s pain, hold it for 3-5 seconds and then exhale.
  2. Utilizing Your Phone:
    A phone is often readily available and can be used the same way as the bottle. Position it under the xiphoid process, press, lean slightly forward, and work through the center, left, and right.
  3. Specialized Abdominal Massage Tools:
    There are also specific tools designed for abdominal self-massage that can be used in place of your fingers or other objects.

Frequency and Timing

This technique can be performed daily, as much as you want. The more frequently and longer you practice it, the quicker the spasm will dissipate. It is best to perform this massage before eating, and it can be done lying down, sitting, or standing. There are no contraindications for this technique, and it can be practiced regardless of past surgeries, the presence or absence of a gallbladder, or any other specific medical conditions. It’s a universally beneficial practice.

Common Initial Reactions

In the initial stages, after a few days of working with this area, it may start to hurt, which is normal. The skin, muscles, and subcutaneous tissue might react and ache from the unfamiliar action. If this occurs, take a break for a day or two and continue. Sometimes, bruises may form, but this is also normal. With time, your body will adjust, bruises will cease to form, and the skin will no longer hurt.

Why Practice This Technique?

You might be wondering, why go through all this trouble, why endure the pain? The diaphragm is connected to various symptoms and causal relationships within the body. Even though there is no official diagnosis like “diaphragm spasm” since it’s not visible in ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, or blood tests, the spasm exists. This simple technique can provide substantial relief and promote overall well-being, making it an essential practice for anyone seeking to maintain optimal health.

And that’s it. The core techniques have been outlined above. However, if you’d like to delve deeper into this topic, please continue reading.

Effects of Diaphragm Spasms: An Overview

Diaphragm spasms can have a wide-ranging impact on the body, affecting various organs and systems. Here’s a comprehensive look at how this condition may influence different areas:

1. Digestive System:

The diaphragm serves as a pump for the stomach, liver, and intestines, moving them up and down, driving the intestines, propelling bile, lymph, and venous blood out of the liver. When the diaphragm spasms, it loses its pumping function for the gastrointestinal tract, leading to multiple issues:

  • The liver begins to swell and gradually enlarge.
  • Bile starts to stagnate, impeding its flow.
  • Food digestion worsens.
  • Pancreatic enzymes are not activated, leading to bloating and abdominal enlargement.
  • Accompanying symptoms might include abdominal pain, grumbling, post-meal discomfort, pain in the right side, belching, and heartburn, particularly due to irritation where the esophagus passes through the diaphragm.

2. Respiratory System:

Normally, the diaphragm’s movement stretches the lungs, but if a spasm occurs, the lower parts of the lungs don’t expand during inhalation. This forces the individual to breathe using the lung’s tips, worsening venous outflow from the head and leading to headaches.

3. Musculoskeletal System:

A spasm can pull the esophagus downward, tugging the neck forward and causing the cervical vertebrae to drift forward. This can cause the seventh cervical vertebra to twist and its spinous process to protrude upward, resulting in a condition known as “texting neck syndrome.”

4. Cardiovascular System:

The aorta passes through the diaphragm, and a spasm can constrict it, leading to elevated blood pressure as the body must still pump blood downwards through the aorta.

5. Venous and Lymphatic Systems:

In the opposite direction, the inferior vena cava and abdominal lymphatic duct pass through the diaphragm. If the diaphragm is in spasm, these can be compressed, causing venous and lymphatic stagnation in the lower body. This could manifest as:

  • Varicose veins in internal organs.
  • Uterine varicose veins.
  • Edematous small pelvis.
  • Swollen prostate.
  • Swollen rectum.
  • Varicocele.
  • Leg varicose veins.

6. Nervous System:

Diaphragmatic nerves are connected to intercostal nerves, so a diaphragm spasm may create a situation similar to intercostal neuralgia. This can manifest as acute pain radiating to the left or right between the ribs.

An important detail: two vagus nerves pass through the diaphragm, originating from the brain and descending alongside the esophagus. When a spasm occurs in the diaphragm, it can irritate these nerves, and the pain will spread along the path of these nerves. This can lead to sensations in the throat or esophagus, such as a lump in the throat, a feeling that food or water is not passing through, or a constant secretion of mucus from the throat. The discomfort might also travel downward along the vagus nerves, resulting in pain somewhere in the intestines. However, the classic symptom of a diaphragm spasm is pain in the back, especially in the area between the shoulder blades.

Typically, people describe this pain in a similar way when they consult a doctor, likening it to a sensation as if a knife has been stabbed into the back, a nail hammered into the spine, or a stake driven between the shoulder blades. The pain is piercing and extremely unpleasant, creating a desire to stretch, press, or massage the area, but relief is often unattainable.

Where does diaphragm spasm come from?

The main reasons include:

  • Stress: Essentially, any stress causes a surge of adrenaline, and the person feels internally compressed, like a coiled spring. There’s also a specific type of stress that strikes the diaphragm directly, referred to as the “can’t cope with the task at hand” conflict.
  • Vomiting and Regurgitation in Infants and Young Children: These can be described as jerky contractions of the diaphragm, esophagus, and stomach all at once. Often, after such jerks and contractions, the diaphragm does not fully relax.
  • Inflammation of Adjacent Organs: Any organ lying next to the diaphragm will irritate it if inflamed, causing a reflex spasm. Examples of conditions that might cause this include gastritis, pancreatitis, hepatitis, pleuritis, lung inflammation, bronchitis, and so on.
  • Traumas, Falls, Blows: Surely, most people have felt this at least once in their life when they have taken an accidental or intentional blow to the stomach. Bam, and all of a sudden, you can’t breathe in or out, or you fall flat on your back, feeling as if your breath has been knocked out of you. That’s a diaphragm spasm.

Prevention of Diaphragm Spasm

Since the primary cause is stress, the first step is to quickly burn off the adrenaline that occurs during a stressful event. The best way to do this is through some form of physical exercise. Examples include squats, running, climbing stairs, dancing, hitting a punching bag with a stick, yelling, or engaging in any other physical activity that exhausts you. The closer this physical activity is to the stress event, the more effective it will be.

The thought you might naturally have, something like “I’ll stress out during work, and then at ten in the evening or tomorrow, I’ll go to the gym and burn off the adrenaline” – that doesn’t work. You need to act quickly and immediately. For example, if you’re at the office, and your boss just came in and yelled at you, obviously, you can’t beat him with a stick like a punching bag. But what can you do? Once he’s gone, stand up, go to the bathroom, and do squats until you’re exhausted.

What else can be done for prevention? Abdominal self-massage or simply lying on a roller with your back can help. Place the roller around the lower edge of your shoulder blades and lie on it for 5-10 minutes.

Another good preventive measure for diaphragm spasm is to apply vacuum cups to the projection of the diaphragm from the front, sides, and back. There you have it, now you know what to do, and as you can see, it’s quite simple.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The content presented on this website should be considered solely as opinions and personal experiences. Read more

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