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Woman singing Photo by Josh Rocklage on Unsplash

Did you know that when you sing you are not only using your vocal chords, but also the lungs, the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, and also the pelvic floor?


It’s no surprise that the body is all connected, as in it’s one whole unit, but it’s easy to forget that an activity like singing is a dynamic and complex way we use our bodies. In a 2018 literature review, voice researchers Emerich Gordon & Reed refer to this YouTube video by osteopathic practitioner Roger Fiammetti which beautifully shows how the simple act of breathing involves not just the lungs, but the muscular system from the face and neck down to the bottom of our pelvic floor and the perineum, the video also outlines how the body has four diaphragms which help regulate air and fluid pressure throughout the body.

In fact, look at the structural similarities of the vocal chords and the pelvic floor:

Vocal Chords

Labeled for reuse at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vocal_Folds.jpg

 

pelvic floor pic

Labeled for reuse at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3b/1115_Muscles_of_the_Pelvic_Floor.jpg/800px-1115_Muscles_of_the_Pelvic_Floor.jpg

Researchers in the physical medicine realm (pelvic floor therapists, OBGYNs, respiratory medicine) as well as singers and voice scientists are interested in how the pelvic floor can improve your singing, and also how singing can help you heal your pelvic floor.

Bedekar (2012), a women’s health physiotherapist in the UK created a pilot study to show if singing could be used as the main pelvic floor exercise for women who had symptoms of pelvic floor weakness. The study participants were taught how to correctly fire a pelvic floor contraction while doing a simple singing practice like scales, with both short and long pelvic floor muscle contractions while holding a note. After the participants got the technique down, they were told to sing using the pelvic floor muscle exercises for a minimum of 15 minutes a day, five times a week for 3 weeks. This allocation of time was to be divided up according to each individual’s convenience. After the trial period most of the participants showed an improvement in their pelvic floor strength.

Wanting to weave together the findings in the importance of pelvic floor muscle’s role in breathing, posture, and regulation of intraabdominal pressure, Emerich Gordon & Reed conducted a literature review (2018) which aimed to show the connection between these disciplines and how incorporating the pelvic floor in voice coaching and voice science could help improve singing for many professionals.

What both researchers found was a connection that could be utilized to help people reach their goals of healthier pelvic floors and better singing ability.

Pelvic Floor Therapy for You 

The licensed therapists at Femina PT are always taking great courses that help us learn more about the pelvic floor and how it functions in the body, including a course last year about this very topic, taught be Susan Clinton with the Pelvic Guru institute. We can incorporate fun stuff like singing to help you connect with your pelvic floor, if that helps you stay motivated and interested in your therapy. The bottom line is helping you get better in a way that is tailored to you.

References

Bedekar, N. (2012). Pelvic floor muscles activation during singing: A pilot study. Journal of Association Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health. 110:27-32

Han, D., Ha, M. (2015). Effect of PFM exercises on pulmonary function. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 27: 3233-3235

Emerich Gordon, K. A., & Reed, O. (2018). The Role of the Pelvic Floor in Respiration: A Multidisciplinary Literature Review. Journal of Voice. doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.09.024 

Fiammetti R. La Respiration Totale. 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vokWBNmMOCg

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      I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor...

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      I was in multiple car accidents a decade ago, and I have been to many physical therapists through the years without success. They found the root of my lower back pain problems and after nearly a decade of barely being able to walk I finally can again without pain. They are also the best pelvic floor pts and the only ones who found the connection between my pelvic floor and lower back problems. If you need help with physical pain, they are your answer. -- Jackie W., 1/19/17 via Yelp!

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