Research is emerging about how the relaxation response, vocal muscle patterns and diaphragmatic strength affect performance and vocalisation. This is important whether you are struggling with performance, vocalisation or confidence in corporate meetings, as an athlete, or as a performing artist.
Performance, vocalisation and breathing pattern are affected by a multitude of systems such as:
- muscle fatigue
- postural positioning
- muscle tension in the extrinsic vocal muscles (important for talking and singing, and VCD)
- heart rate and stress response
- the ability to stay mentally present and in a state of flow
- the ability to stay in an ideal relaxed state to prepare and then recover for events, performances and meetings.
During performances, the body demands more of the lungs than during resting states. A common issue with breathing during performance is overuse of the upper chest and shoulder muscles. This creates more tension and anxiety and makes the work of breathing and performing harder.
Common symptoms include:
- Performance anxiety
- Feeling short of breath
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Chest tension or pain
- Twitching, stomach butterflies and shaking
How does Breathing Works help with performance?
The first thing we will do is assess your breathing pattern and measure the movement and thickness of your diaphragm using Real Time Ultrasound. We will then aim to restore an optimal pattern of breathing and teach you how to achieve baseline relaxation. Following this we will assess breathing while talking or singing and the associated tension in the vocal muscles. We will teach you how to appropriately coordinate your breathing with vocalisation so you feel more confident and less symptomatic. Manual techniques such as massage of the vocal and neck muscles may be needed in some cases.
After you have mastered basic breathing we can then move to measure the strength of your inspiratory muscles using POWERbreathe testing equipment. This tells us how strong or weak your breathing muscles are and allows us to be very specific in putting together a strengthening program involving Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) (www.powerbreathe.com).
After any performance, it is also extremely important to know how to breathe well at rest to maximise your recovery and allow your body to move into the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.