Diaphragm True or False? 5 Questions

5 Questions about the Diaphragm

In this video, Voice Physio, Selina, shares some important information about the diaphragm singers should know via a fun game of True or False.

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Singers, how well do you know your diaphragm? Let’s play true or false to find out.

I have five questions about the diaphragm for you. I will ask them all first then go back to answer each one and elaborate on them. I invite you to play along and put your answers in the comment. Ready?

Question one: Your diaphragm is a part of your core and provides you with postural support. True or false?

Question two: People with poor balance function have poor diaphragm function. True or false?

Question three: Your diaphragm is an involuntary muscle. True or false?

Question four: People with low back pain have lower diaphragm strength and endurance. True or false?

Question five: Your diaphragm sits still when you hold your breath. True or false? Please put your answers in the comment.

Done? Alrighty, here are your answers.

Question one: Your diaphragm is a part of your core and provides you with posture support. True or false? True.

Your diaphragm’s main job is for breathing but it is also a part of your core. It works together with your transversus abdominis and pelvic floor muscles to modulate intraabdominal pressure to provide you with postural support.

It does this by modulating a continuous tone for the support part, and contracting and relaxing for the breathing part.

This is why I encourage singers to include Integration in their movement routine to train their body-breath-voice to collaborate without interfering with one another.

Question two: People with poor balance function have poor diaphragm function. True or false? True.

People with poor balance have decreased diaphragmatic movement and decreased diaphragm muscle thickness.

This is why balance training is an essential part of my conditioning programme for singers because it can help support diaphragm function.

Balance training also increases postural muscle recruitment, which is great for balance itself and also good for attaining and maintaining the Ideal Voicing Alignment.

Plus it is an effective and fun way to train your core with which is of course a crucial part of our Breath Support.

Speaking of Breath Support, make sure you check out this video to see what is NOT Breath Support.

Question three: Your diaphragm is an involuntary muscle. True or false? False.

Your diaphragm is a skeletal muscle and we have voluntary control over all our skeletal muscles.

This is a common myth I see vocal coaches tell singers on social media so let’s dive deeper.

There are three types of muscles in your body. First, cardiac muscles, specialised muscles found in your heart, the only one that can pump.

Second, smooth muscles, they make up a lot of your internal organs, like these ones.

Third, skeletal muscles, they are all your muscles for movement.

Whilst you may not have great control over all your skeletal muscles, like I’m really bad with my toes, little control does not mean involuntary.

It is true that breathing is generally on autopilot, but you can override this anytime you want.

It is actually really important for survival that we get to decide when to breathe and when not to breathe.

Your diaphragm is the muscle of inhalation so anytime you choose to inhale how you want, you are voluntarily using your diaphragm.

For example, I can inhale fast and hard. Ew! What’s that? Or I can inhale long and slow. Mmm.. yummy.

For us singers, anytime we take a measured inhale to prepare to sing, we are voluntarily using our diaphragm to do so.

Question four: People with low back pain have lower diaphragm strength and endurance. True or false? True.

Diaphragm strength and endurance are significant lower in people with low back pain.

Considering your diaphragm is a part of your core and has attachments to your lumber spine and intervertebral discs, there really isn’t any surprise that they can affect one another, both good and bad.

So if you have back pain, make sure your back pain is well managed, strengthen your body and core to help support diaphragm function. This is not only important for singing, it is important for healthy living.

Question five: Your diaphragm sits still when you hold your breath. True or false? False.

Your diaphragm does not sit still when you hold your breath. A study on diaphragmatic and cardiac motion during suspended breathing revealed that during a breath hold, your diaphragm moved upwards.

There was less upward movement with breath hold at the end of expiration, and it moved on average around 25% of the normal amount with breath hold at the end of inspiration.

So breath holding does not eliminate motion of your diaphragm, it simply travels less. Cool huh?

So how did you go? Which one was the most surprising? Tell me in the comment.

If you have enjoyed this, let me know with a thumb up.

I’m Selina, a physio and a singer. I help singers move better to sing better and this is a playlist I have made just for singers so make sure you go and check it out.

And if this is your vibe, please subscribe! Until next time, Be Free In Your Movement.™

Selina Asirus Tannenberg. Voice Physio

Selina

Selina Tannenberg is a Meanjin (Brisbane)-based Physiotherapist, Singer, Composer. She believes a Strong, Limber and Fit body is an under-utilised key to enhancing Vocal Efficiency and Performance so has created Voice Physio to help Singers build Strong Bodies for Singing! She publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus, and has a pet dragon named Sk’on.

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