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Winded (Solar Plexus Syndrome)

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What is the strange condition?

Winded (Solar Plexus Syndrome)

What if somebody hits you at the abdomen forcefully? You would obviously be out of breath or say -it would be difficult for you to breathe.

When a direct blow to your abdomen causes you to lose breath due to injury to solar plexus aka celiac plexus (a network of nerves in abdomen posterior to stomach); this is known as solar plexus syndrome or celiac trunk syndrome.

The syndrome is usually encountered in athletic individuals or those who are regular practitioners of martial arts.

The celiac plexus is known as solar plexus because of the radiation of nerve fibers that arise from it in the outward direction.

Where in the body is the solar plexus located?

The celiac or solar plexus is located underneath the heart, posterior to the stomach; or the plexus is located at the gravitational centre of the trunk right below the junction of ribs in the midline (at the tip of xiphoid process of sternum- the breast bone). It is located in front of the diaphragm (a major muscle of respiration).

Why is the solar plexus syndrome given so importance?

The solar plexus is important because it is placed in a position that is vulnerable to physical injury. Since it is a plexus of nerves, a punch at the area would cause a great deal of pain. Not only this; usually in karate the technique of hitting the plexus is used to knock the air out of the opponent and causing them to lose balance.

Some symptoms that would highlight that you are suffering from solar plexus syndrome:

  • Pain at the pit of stomach (one of  the reason)
  • Difficulty in breathing (dyspnea)
  • Anxiety

What actually happens when you get winded:

Well, a blow to the area causes the compression of nerves located here. Because of compression the diaphragm contracts so hard that it goes into spasm. Since diaphragm is a major muscle of respiration, its spasm can cause difficulty in breathing.

Once the spasm settles, the breathing gets normal.

A person most commonly gets winded during sports as soccer or rugby etc. other than that a fall on the floor usually in martial arts causes a person to get winded.

How to treat the condition?

Adopting a position with knees bent, upper body brought forward and down helps to relax muscles. With that slow breaths should be taken. The condition would most probably improve within 10-15 minutes.

If the pain is too deep and not going away, now is the time to consult a medical practitioner for further investigations like a fractured rib etc.

Some exercise may also help:

  • In a sitting or standing position place both of your hands on stomach. With your face in front, inhale and freely the air and expand your stomach.
  • Now exhale. While exhaling, push your hands in an inward and upward direction towards your stomach. Turn your trunk to the left as you continue to do so also move your face on the left side. Move your pelvis to the right.
  • Now inhale again and come to the original position. Release your hands from stomach gradually. Repeat the exercise moving in the opposite direction for about 4-36 times. If your neck and shoulders feel stiff, repeat less often.

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