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The Sing and Squat Conundrum (Part 2)

The Sing and Squat Conundrum (Part 2)

Answering some questions…

the thinker

          I purposely left the last post with a lot of unanswered questions in hopes that people would start to really consider the implications of proper breathing during exercise and how it related to singing. I also acknowledge that another few hundred words would just be excessive for a blog post. But much to my surprise I have had an amazing response to the sing and squat conundrum. So I hope I can briefly answer some of those questions here.

          First and foremost, yes I did actually make a fool of myself singing at the gym whilst squatting. I decided it would be best to go at a time when no one was around (the benefits of a 24-hour gym), but nevertheless, it was somewhat of an out-of-place activity. The amazing thing to report back to all of you is that it was remarkable the amount of support and pressure I was able to feel from my abdomen. It also made me even more of a believer in our previous discussion of the pelvic diaphragm. Not only did it assist in stabilizing my torso throughout the squat motion, but it was invaluable in regulating intra-abdominal pressure (pressure within the abdomen).

squat2

          There were a few questions about how the rectus abdominis muscle is able to act as a support for which the oblique and transversus abdominis muscle pull against when they contract independently. This is something that tends to confuse even the most keen of anatomists (present company included) on a first go, but I will do my best to explain it here:

          Most muscle and its tendons (tendons join muscle to bone and allow for the muscle to control motion of the bone) are covered by fibrous layers (from very thin to very thick) called fascia. This fascia offers protection for the muscle and its fibres as well as several other important functions that we need not explore here. Just before the rectus abdominis muscle, the muscle fibers of the external and internal obliques along with the transversus abdominis muscle stop and continue anteriorly towards the rectus abdominis muscle as extensions of fascia. No muscle fibres are present, just fascia that was surrounding the muscle sort of like when you put garbage in a bag and can still tie the end shut.

Anterior view of the layers of the abdomen and their fascial extensions. Notice how the lateral abdominal muscles stop but continues just as fascia to cover or go under the rectus abdominis muscle.

Anterior view of the layers of the abdomen and their fascial extensions. Notice how the lateral abdominal muscles stop but continue just as fascia to cover or go under the rectus abdominis muscle. Also, for better visualization of all layers of the abdomen, some of the fascia has been cut away but would be covering the lateral abdominal muscles as well.

          These extensions of fascia go over or under the rectus abdominis muscle depending on the muscle they originate from, and connect with the fascia from their respective partner on the other side. This means that fascia extending from the external oblique muscle on the left side, will connect centrally with fascia extending from the external oblique muscle on the right side creating a continuous sheet of fascia anterior to the rectus abdominis. This is the same for the internal oblique and transversus abdominis muscles with the continuous fascial layer travelling either anterior or posterior to the rectust abdominis. With the fascia either going over or under the rectus abdominis, the fascia forms a sort of “sheath” and is therefore called the rectus sheath containing the rectus abdominis muscle. You can imagine then, that by bracing themselves to the rectus abdominis through their fascial attachments to the rectus sheath, the other abdominal muscles are able to contract independently of the rectus abdominis muscle, while it centrally anchors their actions.

This may not be a perfect squat, but as a performer you may be required to sing in these types of positions. Using IAAs can help with this!

This may not be a perfect squat, but as a performer you may be required to sing in these types of positions. Using IAAs can help with this!

          Sometimes diagrams or other images are helpful in understanding this concept, and then sometimes you may just have to read the last two paragraphs over a couple times. The important thing to remember is that because the rectus abdominis is somewhat isolated from the other main abdominal muscles, its actions can be independent of them. This allows you to still breathe with someone standing on your abdomen or during a proper squat requiring a stable core.

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