Breathing for success

I was especially interested in what we learned this week about the respiratory system in lecture and lab. I found the breath holding theory implying control of breath via the diaphragm especially enlightening – and relevant to an issue I have been having in my workouts.

Over the past few years, since I have really started running regularly while simultaneously studying & practicing singing, I have noticed a strange correlation between my performance in one area and my performance in the other. On days I have great runs, I struggle in my voice class and on days where I have great supporting breath for singing, I can’t seem to hit my aerobic rhythm if I run the same day.  I have been investigating this for sometime and expressed my curiosity as to why this happens to coaches and my voice professors – no one really could tell me why.

I had assumed that it had to do with the fact that each activity requires a different type of breath to sustain it.  When I sing, it is critical that I fill up my lungs from my diaphragm and I control the output of air with the diaphragm’s muscles. Good singing for me comes down to weather or not I am breathing in the right places so I have enough oxygen to animate a piece of music. Running is almost the exact opposite. When I run well I hit a groove of a stable heart rate, momentum, and breath pattern. My breaths tend to be moderate to shallow, in time with my strides and workout music.

Prior to last week, I suspected that the cause of my difficulty in transitioning from one activity to the other was based in a neurological and conscious mechanism – that is that I just had trouble changing my mindset, and so my breathing was off. However, after learning about the very important role of the diaphragm in regulating breath, I wonder if the cause is actually due to the muscle memory of my diaphragm. Maybe it is that I just haven’t practiced enough controlling my diaphragm.

I am going to try doing specific breathing exercises as a warm up to both practices – especially on days where I double up singing and running. Before a run I am going to try to take a lot of shallow, rhythmic breaths to prime my diaphragm for better performance. Likewise, before a rehearsal I am going to practice my deep and supported breathing. Hopefully this will allow me to not only excel in one at a time, but reach a balance where I can do both well!

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1 Response to Breathing for success


    I think doing specific breathing exercises will help a lot with your transition from runner’s breathing to singer’s breathing. It’s really interesting that you find such a difference between the two types of breathing that you have to do. Breath is very important for both singing and running, and I never really thought about how someone might have to consciously change the way they are breathing depending on what activity they are doing. I am a runner myself, and I find that if I focus too much on my breathing, my pace gets messed up. So, maybe after you do your breathing exercises, it might help to kind of just relax and go with the flow. Try not to over-think things!

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