Heart and Singing

This is a very meaningful and personal post for me.

I have a heart disease. From my operation remains a zipper scar.Purely optical I feel so comfortable with my scar that it always irritates me that others don`t have it. When I look at other peoples chest I always have the impression there is something missing.

In this post I`d like to talk about, how my heart disease has influence on my singing abilities and health and I`ll show you techniques to manage scares, so you`ll be able to care for your scars better. Also I`d like to talk a bit about anatomy with you.

Because of my zipper scar I am suffering from muscle tension dysphonia. It restricts me especially when i am nervous. For example at auditions. I always feel tension in my front throat.

Anatomy

Let´s talk about some anatomy first.

How does a zipper scar have influence on the muscles you need to sing?

We are well aware how the larynx is connected to the supraglottal structures. The hyoid bone is attached to the larynx as well as the floor of the mounth and the tongue, the epiglottis and the pharynx behind.

But how exactly is the larynx is connected to the muscles surrounding it? When you had heart surgery and have a zipper scar you had a sternumfracture. Surgeons cut through the sternum completly or partially.

The group of muscles that is of importance here when it comes to singing are the extrinsic laryngeal muscles. They are divided in suprahyoid (above the hyoid) and infrahyoid muscles. The suprahyoid muscles elevate the larynx and the infrahyoid depress the larynx.

The two muscles that have the most impact for people who have had sternum fractures are the m.sternohyoideus and the m.sternothyroid. Apparent from their names they are connected to the sternum.

The m.sternohyoideus depresses the hyoid (and larynx). It is involved in the procedure of swallowing.

The m.sternothyroideus connects the sternum and the shield cartilage. It also depresses the larynx and is involved in swallowing.

Based on those anatomical facts my interpretation is, that due to the sternum fracture the larynx is more likely to have a high position. I assume the m.sternohyoid and m.sternothyroid tend to be shortened or have tension. Depending on your singing style many singing teachers recommend a low larynx position. But due to musculary changes that might be difficult for singers with a zipper scar. Pulling the larynx down arbitrarily would have negative influence on the singing voice as well.

If you are struggling with that, teach your singing instructor about the anatomy of the extrinsic laryngeal muscles and find ways to relax those muscles in order to lower the larynx.

(Due to copyright, I didn`t put many pictures here)

My general advice, be confident about your scar. If you try to hide your zipper scar, you will be tending to collaps in your front chest, your shoulders will pull forwards, the muscles of the front body and neck will shorten and that will have a bad influence on your posture.

Scar Treatment

My experience helps me a lot in my profession as a therapist. Let me show you some techniques to care for your scars.

  • Bio oil: Use some drops of Bi Oil and massage your scar. You can also try to extent the tensed area by gently exert a bit pressure while massaging the scar.
  • Fascia Training
  • Fascia roll (Tchibo, Blackroll)
  • Yogawheel
  • Practice Yoga in general, particularly heart openers
  • Get help from a professional. There is nothing that helped me as much as osteopathy. An osteopath was the first one to detect the influence of my scar to my body and shed light upon the coherences.

Personal Experiences

A fact that was hard for me to accept is, that I am physically not as strong as other people. It has been an issue since school and sport lessons. Don`t get me wrong, I always try to go to my limits. But the last years I learned where my limits are. If I overexert myself it has negative consequences for my body and health. Viewed externally, I look fit and powerful. So the fact that I have physical limits is hard to comprehend for others. In general I need far more effort than others to achieve a certain level of physical performance. And I learned through experience and testing my limits, there is a level of physical performances I can`t achieve. It`s that simple.

The cardiovascular system ist directly linked to the respiratory system. Sometimes I do feel short-winded. But my impression is, that this is linked to the limits given by muscle tension due to the zipper scar. Singing is of course a very healing activity for me as I assume it to be for anyone with cardiovascular diseases. It widens my chest, it trains my respiratory sytem, it relaxes my muscles, it`s good for the mental health. But when I was younger, I dreamed of being a professional singer. A singer is a high performer athlete. And this is a physical state I can`t achieve.

I did not find any scientific research on this topic. In my opinion the positive effects of singing on the cardio vascular system is a great science field yet to explore.