What does Voice mean?
Recently in 2018 I have been watching many women and children using their voices to change the political and social climate! Women have been speaking up all over the world about social justice during the International Women’s Day. And, young leaders have risen and demanded political change in light of the many school shootings. While this was happening, it made me stop and think, “what does this mean – Find Your Voice?” What if women didn’t have a clear and strong voice to use? Does finding your voice only mean voicing your views? What does voice mean to you? What ways does vocalization and pitch change our communication?
The Voice and postural control
In working with Women of all ages for the last several decades – a “voice” has many depths and layers that can not only be a window into the soul, but a view into the deep postural muscles. What if the postural muscle system has some deficiencies – such as poor control of the pelvic floor, deep abdominals or the deep back musculature? What about the person with chronic low back pain and has been relying on their diaphragm to act as a postural control muscle thus sharing the responsibilities with respiration? Listening to people talk can let you understand if the system is over or under activating during speech. It takes a constant and controlled exhale to produce enough air movement and variance to deliver vocal chord movements that allow us to talk with inflection, sing or yell. If there are problems the vocalization can be the first to mirror the difficulties. The best example is following child birth – the new mother will talk with a quieter and much more shallow voice. She will also laugh the same way – no deep belly laughing the day after a vaginal delivery! As her postural system, such as the pelvic floor, come back online, her voice can become more normalized and deep laughter can return. When things do not re-automate she can develop lower pitch changes and increased craggy changes long before aging is a factor. This can also coincide with incontinence with laughing, sneezing, coughing, and for sure – yelling/screaming.
The Voice as a tool for change
I believe breath holding is not a good idea to help any of us achieve normal human movement. If we are holding our breath to get out of chairs, on and off the floor and up and down stairs, we are either not working efficiently, or we have been seriously debilitated. In a healthy population that may have deficiencies in the postural control system, it is possible to use the voice as a tool to help restore and re-automate the system. Try talking in your normal voice, then raise the pitch and notice the difference in your body to produce the higher pitch? Now, lower the pitch and feel the differences there! The pitch can have a direct effect to change the pelvic floor and other deep postural control muscles. Now, think of ways to use the voice in training the system. Can talking occur easily with walking or running? If we are talking, we are avoiding breath holding which may help the endurance over time. How about lifting something heavy? Try raising the pitch to recruit the deeper postural control muscles – yelling and screaming at the gym may be protective of the pelvic floor and help avoid huge breath holds and increases of intra-abdominal pressure. Singing brings us joy and can help re-coordinate the postural muscles.
So! Go ahead Strong Women – Find your voice, your joy and your pelvic floor!
Susan C. Clinton PT DScPT OCS WCS FAAOMPT WHNC