Osteopathic Manipulation & The Voice

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osteopathy for The Voice

The Importance of Voice

We often take our voices for granted, but they are actually one of the most versatile instruments our body has at its disposal, and can be used to communicate in a wider range of ways than most of us realise. Effective speakers expertly alter their voice to get their central message across with precision and drive. They can have an audience completely silent and poised to hear their every quip, shout or whisper. A parent uses one tone of voice to tell off a young child who is in trouble and a completely different one to soothe an unhappy baby. Singers are masters of manipulating their voice to ensure that they can adapt to the style of song required. Volume, pitch, style and tone can all be employed by the singer to tell a story and convey a huge range of emotions.

How voice quality is measured

Voice quality is measured by frequency. Generally, male voices have the lowest frequency, with the average male voice operating between 85 and 155 Hz. Female voices generally have a fundamental frequency of from 165 to 255 Hz. Younger people have voices of even higher frequencies, with the typical infant voice ranging between 250 and 650 Hz, and some exceeding 1000Hz. Most of us have a fundamental frequency that our voice settles into when we are relaxed and using an ordinary tone.

It is not strictly accurate, however, to describe a voice as operating within a single fundamental frequency. In fact it is normal for the voice to vary within a range of frequencies, because of the nature of the way we use it. Most often, the voice operates at a normal conversational level, however the voice changes depending upon the person being spoken to, the circumstances and the emotions being experienced. A business woman addressing a general meeting will use her voice in a very different way than a man calling his dog in the park or a doctor addressing a patient with some difficult news.

How osteopathic manipulation can help

Osteopathic manipulation is the use of techniques to stimulate and engage the larynx. When the voice is in use, the amount of contact between the vibrating vocal folds can be measured using a laryngograph. This piece of equipment measures the frequency of the voice and demonstrates the strength and effectiveness of the voice in question.

Singers can control the fundamental frequency of their voices depending on the style and melody of the song they are singing. They can vary elements like the speed and pressure of the airflow into and out of their body to control the sound they create and therefore adapt the tone of their voice to a variety of musical styles. The glottis opens and closes whilst the voice is in use, and the more a singer can control the movement of the glottis, the richer and more effective a note they can produce. A highly trained singer knows the importance of an effective closure of the glottis to ensure that the note produced is pure and strong, although the style of song they are singing will affect the type of note they are required to produce.

Osteopathic manipulation changes voice quality

A recent pilot study looked into the effect of osteopathic manipulation on the voice quality of singers. The study focused on twelve currently healthy singers, who were measured before and after each treatment. Two different osteopathic treatments were trialled: specific laryngeal manipulation (SLM) and postural manual therapy (PMT). The study measured their effect on the voice quality and pitch of each singer.

Results of the study showed that osteopathic manipulation was effective in promoting the voice quality and pitch in the majority of the healthy singers. There were marked improvements in the voices of singers who experienced both SLM and PMT.

Osteopathic manipulation could help patients with voice problems.

It can therefore be concluded that osteopathic manipulation could also be advantageous in helping those singers who have experienced voice problems. In addition to this, medical patients who have suffered issues with their voice as a result of illness could benefit from some osteopathic manipulation too, and further studies on the subject would be extremely beneficial.


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