What’s that shapewear doing for your voice?

Let’s say you’ve got a killer gig speaking or performing and you want to look your best on stage. You buy shapewear to wear under your carefully selected outfit thinking you are taking a step that will make you more confident on stage.  Shapewear makers advertise to us the potential to eliminate our muffin top, say bye-bye to back fat, have a jiggle free tummy and thighs and present a body that appears smooth and toned in clothing. You look great, but are great things going to happen to your body and voice?

What else is shapewear doing?

When you apply constant pressure onto the torso and abdomen in the form of compression you increase pressure in those cavities. That means your breathing is forced to be shallow. Your circulation is compromised because blood cannot move as easily around your body. Your stomach is compressed putting you at risk for reflux, slowed digestion and elimination. Your pelvic floor is compromised because it is overloaded with pressure…sneeze pee anyone? Your voice cannot be connected to the body when your being is shoved into a casing like a sausage.

If you don’t already know, for your voice to function well you need to have good mobility in the ribcage, diaphragm and abdomen. The relationship that exists between the diaphragm, transverse abdominus and pelvic floor on inhalation and during phonation is what sets the foundation for the voice to be produced well and easily.

It might feel as though you are experiencing support and resistance as you sing against the compression of the shapewear. That isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t a viable long term solution – we know that the less we use our bodies the way they are designed, the less able our bodies are to function. So, if you get used to singing in shapewear and you go to sing without it, you’re going to have trouble getting your body to do the things that the shapewear was providing.

How nervous are you?

The most effective way we have of dealing with our nerves in any given moment is to focus on the breath. A free, smooth inhale and a long, free exhale are key to shutting down the fight of flight response in the body. Shapewear, the very thing we’ve chosen to feel more confident on stage, is actually augmenting the nerves and making it impossible to tame them because we cannot access the breath the way we need.

The bottom line.

Can you get away with wearing shapewear and performing well? In the short term, yes, if you aren’t already battling nerves. But, long term, we aren’t sausages or nerf footballs meant to be squeezed and stuffed. We are bodies that are meant to move, breathe, sneeze, sing and speak freely. If the opportunity of a lifetime to audition, speak or perform on stage presents itself, put down the shapewear ladies, it won’t help you on stage.

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