Changes in intra-abdominal pressure during postural and respiratory activation of the human diaphragm

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Sep;89(3):967-76. doi: 10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.967.


In humans, when the stability of the trunk is challenged in a controlled manner by repetitive movement of a limb, activity of the diaphragm becomes tonic but is also modulated at the frequency of limb movement. In addition, the tonic activity is modulated by respiration. This study investigated the mechanical output of these components of diaphragm activity. Recordings were made of costal diaphragm, abdominal, and erector spinae muscle electromyographic activity; intra-abdominal, intrathoracic, and transdiaphragmatic pressures; and motion of the rib cage, abdomen, and arm. During limb movement the diaphragm and transversus abdominis were tonically active with added phasic modulation at the frequencies of both respiration and limb movement. Activity of the other trunk muscles was not modulated by respiration. Intra-abdominal pressure was increased during the period of limb movement in proportion to the reactive forces from the movement. These results show that coactivation of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles causes a sustained increase in intra-abdominal pressure, whereas inspiration and expiration are controlled by opposing activity of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to vary the shape of the pressurized abdominal cavity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / physiology*
  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Adult
  • Diaphragm / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Ribs / physiology
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Spine / physiology