The muscles of respiration

Name of muscle

Position

Attachments

Action/s

(di-a-fram)

Large, dome-shaped muscle that separates the thorax from the abdomen

Attaches to the lower part of the sternum, lower six ribs and upper three lumbar vertebrae and its fibres converge to meet on a central tendon in the abdominal cavity

On contraction the diaphragm flattens to expand the volume of the thoracic cavity to assist inspiration Upon relaxation and expiration it returns to its dome shape

An unusual muscle in that it is under both unconscious control, as in the regulation of breathing from the brain, and conscious control (in that we can choose to override the brainstem control to hold our breath, sigh, sing or talk)

Name of muscle

Position

Attachments

Action/s

Key facts

External intercostals

(eks-turn-al in-ter-kos-tals)

Superficial muscles that occupy the space between the ribs (positioned on the outside)

Attach to the spaces between the ribs

Help to elevate the rib cage during inhalation

Help to increase the depth of the thoracic cavity

Internal intercostals

(in-turn-al in-ter-kos-tals)

Lie deep to the external intercostals (positioned on the inside)

Attach to the spaces between the ribs

Depress the rib cage which helps to move air out of the lungs when exhaling

Used during forced expiration (as in coughing)

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