The other mode of filling the lungs is by abdominal breathing, as illustrated by Fig. 61.
At D is a side view of the diaphragm in its natural position, and the dotted lines show its position when it is contracted and thus flattened. When the diaphragm contracts or flattens, a vacant space is left above it, and then the air rushes in to fill the vacuum, as it does when the ribs are raised. This flattening of the diaphragm presses all the viscera beneath it downward, and thus causes the abdomen to swell outward, as is represented by the dotted lines at A. Then, when the diaphragm returns to its natural state, a vacant space is made beneath it, and in consequence the viscera below rises to fill the vacuum, owing to the pressure of the atmosphere around the body; for it is said that "nature abhors a vacuum," by which is expressed a law of pneumatics in a popular adage. This law is, that when a vacuum is made in either air or water, the surrounding fluid presses from all sides, and from the bottom as strongly as from above. And thus, when a vacuum is made by the raising of the diaphragm, there is a pressure on all sides of the body, forcing the intestines upward to fill the vacuum thus made. This enables us to explain that most curious and wonderful mode by which the upper viscera are prevented from sinking on to the lower, as secured chiefly by abdominal breathing.
The pelvis is the bony basin supporting the spine, to which the bones of the legs are fastened.
This basin holds the pelvic organs, consisting in one sex of the bladder and rectum, and in the other sex of the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. These pelvic organs must enlarge by use, and so are placed in a spongy, yielding substance called cellular membrane. Now the liver, stomach, and all the intestines below the diaphragm, have no support from above, and so the question is, what sustains these organs, weighing from six to twelve pounds, so that they do not sink down on to the delicate pelvic organs below? The answer is, they are held up chiefly by abdominal breathing, as above explained. For at every rise of the diaphragm a vacuum is made above the abdominal viscera, lifting them upward, and this is done at every breath, and we breathe about twenty times each minute.
By this constant upward and downward movement of the abdominal viscera, the healthful and quickened circulation of the blood in all the myriad capillaries of both the abdominal and also the pelvic organs is promoted; for it has been shown on page 152 how alternate compression and relaxation of the veins promotes quickened circulation in all the veins and capillaries. Of course, any thing that impedes abdominal breathing interrupts this lifting operation, so that the upper intestines are left to gravitate on the pelvic organs. This stops the healthful flow of blood through the capillaries, and tends to produce congestion, inflammation, and cancerous accumulations in the pelvic organs.
All natural and healthful breathing unites both chest and abdominal breathing, as may be seen by watching a sleeping child. Clothing resting on the hips and abdomen, unsupported from the shoulders, is sure to impede abdominal breathing, and if heavy, to stop it entirely. In the present style of dress, when the clothing rests on hips and abdomen, and is unsupported by shoulder-straps, through most of the day this most healthful movement is interrupted, and thus the most efficient mode is taken of bringing on terrible suf-fering, both physical and mental.
Many a school-girl, whose waist was originally of a proper and healthful size, has gradually pressed the soft bones of youth until the lower ribs, that should rise and fall with every breath, become entirely unused, while heavy clothing or stiff corset-bones stop the abdominal breathing.
The pressure of the upper interior organs upon the lower ones by tight dress, is increased by the weight of clothing resting on the hips and abdomen. Corsets, as usually worn, have no support from the shoulders, and consequently all the weight of dress resting upon or above them presses upon the hips and abdomen, and this in such a way as to throw out of use, and thus weaken, the supporting muscles of the abdomen, and impede abdominal breathing.
Then the stomach begins to draw from above, instead of resting on the viscera beneath it. This in some cases causes dull and wandering pains, a sense of pulling at the centre of the chest, and a drawing downward at the pit of the stomach. Then, as the natural mode of support is really gone, there is what is often called "a feeling of goneness." This is sometimes relieved by food, which, so long as it remains in a solid form, helps to hold up the falling superstructure. This displacement of the stomach, liver, and spleen interrupts their healthful functions, and dyspepsia and biliary difficulties not unfrequently are the result.
As the stomach and its appendages fall downward, the breathing sometimes thus becomes quicker and shorter, on account of the elongated or debilitated condition of the assisting organs. Consumption not unfrequently results from this cause.
The heart also feels the evil. "Palpitations," "fluttering," "sinking feelings" all show that, in the language of Scripture, "the heart trembleth, and is moved out of its place."
Having the weight of all the unsupported organs above pressing them into unnatural and distorted positions, the passage of the food is interrupted, and inflammations, indurations, and constipation are the frequent result. Dreadful ulcers and cancers in the bowels may be traced in some instances to this cause.
Although these internal displacements are most common among women, some foolish members of the other sex are adopting customs of dress, in girding the central portion of the body, that tend to similar results.