Valve System Explanation
The pumping of the diaphragms, or valves, allows blood and fluids to circulate throughout the body
The body has a series of valves, also called diaphragms, that are responsible for respiration, circulation and digestion. These valves are not the open-and-close type like in the heart; instead, they function more like pumps. Each valve is made of muscle, tissue, and bone structures in the body. One is the diaphragm, which is a horizontal, mostly flat layer in the rib cage that moves downward during inhalation and upward during exhalation. All the valves move in a similar fashion. Another valve is the pelvic floor, and there are others located in the head, neck, feet, and spinal column. These valves pump in coordination with breath and with each other. This pumping function not only circulates blood and fluids throughout the body, it also creates internal pressure, which allows us to hold shape and respond to external forces pushing in on the body.
The pumping of the valves creates peristalsis, wave-like muscular contractions which allow the digestive process to occur, among other functions
The problem that arises with stress is that the valve system actually stops pumping during certain stages of flight or flight (the stress response), which impedes many critical body functions. There are often compensatory patterns to take over the most critical functions, such as respiration, but the compensatory patterns don’t provide optimal functioning. The problems with lack of valve system function and the benefits of a well-functioning valve system will be discussed in greater detail. You can return to the Benefits of a Healthy Nervous System page for a list of the benefits and links to more information.
Stanley Keleman’s book Emotional Anatomy provides a more in depth explanation of the valve system, and is an excellent visual resource for showing the location of the valves and illustrating the concept of internal pressure. I also have a brief video explanation of the valve system on my video resources page.