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The Effect of Standing and Sitting Postures on Breathing in Brass Players

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The Effect of Standing and Sitting Postures on Breathing in Brass Players

Kevin Price et al. Springerplus.

Abstract

Purpose: The object of this study was to examine the effect of posture on breathing in brass players. Breathing when standing was compared with sitting erect on a flat, downward or upward sloping seat, or on a reclining seat.

Methods: Spirometry was used to measure aspects of lung function. Muscle activity and respiratory movements during different playing tasks were recorded using electromyography and inductive plethysmography.

Results: Only sitting in a reclining position produced statistically significantly lower values for VC, FVC, FEV1, PEF than standing. When players were asked to produce a note of maximum duration, only a downward sloping seat caused a significant change (an 11% reduction) compared to standing. When seated, the abdominal component of respiratory movement was significantly higher during these long notes than when standing, though maximum activity in abdominal wall muscles was significantly reduced (by 32-44%). On a downward sloping seat, muscle activity was significantly higher (9%) than on a flat seat. Tongued and untongued sforzando notes recruited significantly less abdominal muscle activity (33-67%) when sitting than when standing. When playing a trumpet study, abdominal muscle activity was significantly reduced on a downward sloping seat (by 32%) and on a flat seat (by 40%) in comparison to standing. Muscle activity in the two sitting positions were not significantly different.

Conclusion: Though brass players are often told to "sit as if standing", abdominal muscle activity is always significantly reduced when sitting on a flat or downward sloping seat, however when greater respiratory effort is required, activity on downward sloping seats may rise closer to that of standing.

Keywords: Abdominal muscles; Brass; Musician; Respiratory movements; Seating.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Sitting positions used in the study.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Konno-Mead traces for the expirations supporting long notes played by two horn players. The trace from player A has two distinct phases with an abrupt transition between them. The second phase has a greater abdominal component. Player B shows only one phase, with a constant ratio of thoracic and abdominal involvement throughout the note.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Abdominal muscle activity (root mean square trace) and movement of the thorax and abdominal wall during a note of maximum duration from a trumpeter. After inhalation and before the sound is generated a small burst of activity is seen in the external oblique muscle (shown magnified ×10 in the inset). This corresponds to a clear inward movement of the abdomen that will contribute to raising airway pressure to the level needed to initiate the note. During the note, little activity is detectable in the abdominal muscles until near its end.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Abdominal muscle activity and movement of the thorax and abdominal wall during tongued an untongued sforzando notes. For the tongued notes, the initial increase of muscle activity and the reduction in chest and abdominal circumference occur well before the beginning of the note. For untongued notes these actions are more rapid and of greater magnitude and must be precisely synchronised with note onset. a.u. arbitrary units.
Figure 5
Figure 5
A comparison of the level of abdominal muscle activity and movement of the chest and abdominal wall during performance of a trumpet study in different postures by a student player. The electromyographic signals from both the external oblique and rectus abdominis are markedly lower when sitting on a flat seat or downward sloping seat than when standing. A.U. arbitrary units.
Figure 6
Figure 6
A comparison of the level of abdominal muscle activity and movement of the chest and abdominal wall during the performance an orchestral excerpt (from the prelude to Act 1 of Carmen) in different postures by a professional player. This is low in the trumpet range and overall, levels of muscle activity are quite modest. They are greatest when standing and lowest when sitting on a flat seat. Sitting on a sloping seat generates a level of muscle activity that is close to that of standing. The pattern of thoracic abdominal movement is similar in all positions and shows no evidence of consistent differences in degree.
Figure 7
Figure 7
A comparison of the level of abdominal muscle activity and the movement of the chest and abdominal wall during the opening bars of the first movement of Mahler’s 5th symphony performed in different postures by a professional player. Muscle activity reaches much higher levels than for the excerpt in Figure 6 reflecting the higher pitches and sound intensity generated. Activity is greatest when standing and lowest when sitting on a flat seat. Sitting on a sloping seat results in an intermediate level of activity. There is no consistent difference between chest and abdominal movement in the three postures.
Figure 8
Figure 8
Each subject was asked to carry out an isovolume manoeuvre and as shown here in a Konno Mead diagram, whose axes were adjusted to give a slope of -1 for the trace. The same scales were used for the x and y axes of the experimental traces for that subject. Further explanation of the figure is provided in the Methods.

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