Acupuncture for singers, who would have thought, right? The idea may not be that crazy after all.
Our voices are part of who we are so when we are out of balance, our voices also suffer. I believe our ability to express ourselves fully is a key part to our freedom in life.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective system of healing which has been practiced for thousands of years. It treats the whole person, addressing underlying weaknesses that in turn strengthen a person from the inside. It alleviates symptoms by stimulating the body’s own healing response, which helps to restore its natural balance. Acupuncture can be used to restore health not only from physical illness, but also when our minds and spirits are in need of repair.
The beauty of acupuncture for performers is that it can work at all levels to address issues that restrict your ability to speak or sing.
Acupuncture is especially useful for the vocal performer, for several reasons. It often works immediately. When properly done, it has a very low complication rate. It can be repeated as necessary, and, over time, it has a cumulative benefit beyond its immediate effect. It can eliminate the need for prescription medications, many of which have unintended side effects.
For example, acupuncture treatment of pain can be dramatic and immediate, without the side effects of stomach irritation and potential vocal fold haemorrhage that may result from excessive use of aspirin or other analgesics. Nasal and sinus congestion can be effectively managed without using vocally drying antihistamines or decongestants. Lower back pain and menstrual cramps can significantly impair singing, and these conditions can often be relieved with one acupuncture session. Anxiety and tension can also be greatly reduced, without the sedating side effects of conventional medications.
Another benefit of acupuncture is that it focuses on function rather than just structure. This is a different paradigm from conventional medical treatment. Western medicine tends to emphasize the physical properties of things, such as appearance, size, and shape. But singing is not a body part; it is a process! Its components, such as breathing and muscle contraction, are also physiologic processes. Structure is, by and large, determined by function.
In fact, how things look is often just a reflection of how they function. An example is vocal nodules, which develop as a consequence of chronic voice abuse. The true “disease” is the process-excessive muscle tension and abnormal laryngeal posturing. The visual correlate–nodules–is in reality an indicator of this process, not the “disease“ itself. Removal of the nodules doesn’t address the true problem of abusive voice use, which, if untreated, continues with likely recurrence of the nodules.
Acupuncture, by dealing with the flow of energy, addresses abnormal function in a direct and immediate fashion.*
Most importantly, acupuncture treats both the body and the mind. Every physical illness has an emotional component. The physical and emotional components can reinforce each other, resulting in a greater degree of disability. By treating only the physical problem, the physician leaves the emotional state still impaired, and complete recovery may be delayed. For example, laryngitis—a physical condition that leads to a cancelled performance or audition—can create anxiety that can lead to increased muscle tension in the larynx, neck, and shoulders; insomnia; and even some depression. When the physical problem resolves, lingering muscle tension can continue to cause discomfort or hoarseness. Acupuncture can treat both simultaneously, allowing for a more rapid and complete restitution of health.
* Acupuncture helps the body and its energy systems flow in a healthy way by either letting some air out, so to speak, when tension is creating a feeling of holding on or also by unblocking areas that seem to be stuck. This can happen very quickly and give direct relief.
6 Benefits of Acupuncture for Singers
- Works immediately
- Low complication rate
- Repetition causes cumulative benefit beyond immediate effect
- Eliminates need for side effect-laden prescription medication
- Focuses on function instead of structure
- Treats body and mind