Pushing Broke me

A Horrible Consequence of Pushing

In this video, Voice Physio, Selina, shares her emotional and deeply personal reason why she is so passionate about teaching singers Pushing is NOT Breath Support. 

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She shares her Personal Story so You don’t make the same Mistake.

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’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

B. Phty
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I used to do a lot of pushing. Pushing broke my body and it affected my singing. Apart from my doctors only two people in the world know this, my husband and my favourite singing teacher, not even my family knows.

I have always wanted to talk about this but wasn’t self assured enough until now. I’m still very nervous about this but I’m going to share it anyway because no one is talking about this so I will be the change I want to see. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, it will be descriptive so, here we go.

When I was in my 20s I had very bad Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I used to have diarrhoea all the time. And my way of managing it was to push it all out before I left the house.

This was particularly aggressive when I was travelling, the prospect of being stuck on a plane, in a car, being stuck anywhere and then my belly getting sick, which really was my normal back then, that was way too scary, so I desperately tried to gain some illusion of control over it by pushing.

After a few years of pushing daily I gave myself haemorrhoids. There you go, I’ve said it. And the first time I saw blood in the bowl. I thought I was going to die, that’s how the anxious brain worked.

And after that the next thought was “Oh no! I did this to myself. I broke my own butt with all that pushing!”

At the time my doctor told me not to worry about fixing it until after I’ve had kids because it will get worse with pregnancy, and we were still undecided then so I just lived with it.

Then I started singing lessons and my first singing teacher was trying to teach me to belt, but he has no structure, no process to his teaching, there wasn’t much explanation or technique, so I was blindly trying to copy him by being loud, being forceful, straining thinking I was belting, and then in one lesson, my haemorrhoid slipped out when I was trying to belt.

I was mortified, so embarrassed. This consistently happened during belting lessons and when I practised at home. I was gutted. I’ve damaged myself with all that pushing and now I can’t do what I wanted to do.

And at the time I still had that false belief that I have to be able to belt to be a real singer. So I was devastated that I would never be the singer I wanted to be. Dream died before it even started.

And you know what’s horrible? Even though I know no one could see, and nobody knew, I felt so exposed and vulnerable.

I wasn’t making any progress with that teacher so I switched and things were so much better with my new teacher. She has structure, she has process, she helped me to understand the what, why, and how of what we were doing, and most importantly, she made me feel safe and supported in her room to share my little secret with her, and she was very considerate of how much belting I wanted to do.

Belting was infinitely better when I was finally taught proper technique to do it, but still, the fear is always there that I could damage myself further.

I eventually had surgery to fix it and let me tell you this, going to see the proctologist to have your butt examined, nasty business, I would not wish that upon my worst enemy.

The surgery itself wasn’t so bad because I was asleep for it. And the couple of weeks after, they weren’t nice, the first time you open your bowels afterwards, oooh horrible, and it’s not nice until the blob all died and you poop them out.

That is something I never ever want to experience again and I don’t want you to have to experience it either.

This is why I say and will keep saying that Pushing is NOT Support.

I know there are vocal coaches teaching singers to push like they’re going to the toilet for Breath Support, which is just wrong!

As a physio, I can tell you that is not how your support muscles work. I talk about that in this video. And as a human, as a fellow singer, pushing is exactly how I broke my butt and it limited my singing.

Micro straining performed repeatedly over a period of time causes as much problem as one episode of massive strain. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

Now retraining how to use your support muscles for singing will take time and I’ve got your back, I’ve got courses and webinars coming. So if you want to stay in the loop, make sure you sign up to my blog, I’ll put the link in the description.

For today, let me give you one tip that can immediately reduce the strain on your pelvic floor and perineum.

Stop taking your phone to the toilet.

The way we sit on the toilet seat with our butt hanging in the hole and the seat pushing up to our legs is very good for things to come out because everything just hangs there.

So every minute you stay sitting there when you have finished your business is another minute of unnecessary strain to that whole area.

I’ve just told you my darkest secret so I might as well tell you this as well. I was recently lucky enough enough to have looked at the clock before I went to the toilet, and I looked at it again when I came out and I could not believe my eyes. I was in there for 50 minutes. 5. Zero. I was shook!

All I did was check Instagram. I replied to people, commented, watched my feed for a bit and that was 50 minutes? Are you [quack] kidding me?

But that was the smack in the face I needed to quit that habit cold turkey. It has been 6, 8 weeks since I have stopped taking my phone to the toilet and let me tell you this, my butt is so much happier.

After what I’ve been through I am very aware of how my butt feels and it used to feel weak and sometimes I even have like a dragging sensation, which was scary, is it happening again? But not anymore, everything feels so much healthier.

The toilet is not an office, it is not a library. Go when you have to, leave when you are done and your future butt will thank you.

And there you have it, my deepest, darkest secret, now you know. The emotional reason that goes with my physio reason for saying, and I will not stop saying, that Pushing is NOT Support.

This is the hardest video I’ve ever made and the anxious is starting to creep back. But like I said, no one is talking about this and it needs to be talked about, so I will be the change I want to see. And if I can help one person to not have to go through what I went through, then it is worth it.

Speaking of help, I help singers Move Better to Sing Better, if that is your vibe, please subscribe. This is a playlist I’ve made just for singers so make sure you check it out.

I’m Selina, a physio, a singer, haemorrhoidectomy survivor. Until next time, Be Free In Your Movement.™

Selina Asirus Tannenberg. Voice Physio


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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