Why mountain biking is great for the voice
Well really I just wanted an excuse to talk about mountain biking and voice at the same time. As I was out riding the Brooklyn tracks I was pondering what I could blog about that would be useful.
Mountain biking is great for the voice for a number of reasons. Firstly it activates the lungs and breathing. Just like any athlete, if you are going to perform using your voice, you need to prepare by energizing and warming up the muscles involved. In the case of speaking this is the whole body and mind as well, which is the case for most physical performances. Yes, speaking is a physical performance and good speaking requires training and development!
Mountain biking requires lots of breathing and the lungs and intercostal (rib muscles) get a great work out. So does the diaphragm which is the large muscle spanning your middle horizontally. This muscle contracts down when you have an impulse to speak causing breath to be taken in. It then raises up like a billowing parachute causing breath to be released. Consistently exercising these muscles develops lung capacity, strength and flexibility for breathing which is essential for speaking well.
Another reason mountain biking is great for the voice is that it helps reduce tension. I find going for a ride helps to use up excess adrenalin, process mental stuff (like thinking about blog posts) and provides a mental rest from worries because one is busy concentrating on not crashing or rolling down banks. As you can see by this photo, I obviously lost concentration!!!!
So, why is releasing tension great for the voice?
Because your voice is simply vibrations carried out by breath and triggered by your desire to speak. When your body has tension everything is tight hence breath is not free to flow and nothing can vibrate adequately. Try tensing different parts of your body and observe how other parts tense in response and what happens to your breathing.
When the speaking muscles can’t vibrate adequately, others have to compensate to force sound out causing vocal strain, pain and poor sound quality. Not only that , if you are constantly tense you won’t be much fun to live with for your partner and children, if you have them, and you know what that means…..grumpy everyone and NO SEX! Disclaimer; I cannot grantee going mountain biking and being happy and relaxed will lead to sex if you have no partner! I notice lots of blokes do mountain bike though but find one has to be discovered upside down down a bank to meet them.
The after ride cafe stop is a mandatory part of a mountain bike ride which contributes to the releasing of tension and therefore is good for the voice. Be aware though that coffee is not. (That doesn’t mean don’t have it, as you can see I do. That is my son though, not me, but it is my coffee.) Coffee and drinks such as alcohol, caffeinated tea and fizzy drinks are very dehydrating which is terrible for the voice. Not because the liquid touches the vocal folds but because of dry mouth (sluggish articulation) and throat. Plenty of good hydration with water or herbal tea causes thinner mucus lubricating everything so things can vibrate better.
So now you are thinking,
‘Stupid woman. I can’t just nip out for a mountain bike ride to warm my voice up before my 1 pm presentation.’
Of course not. But you can get training from ME. I will teach you some simple exercises that will calm you, activate your breathing, reduce tension, energize your speaking muscles and have your voice ready to vibrate beautifully before you get up to speak.
Why does this matter?
Because the quality of your vocal sound (the way your voice vibrates) directly impacts the perception people have of you and your believability, employability, status, social acceptability and power. (There has been lots of research on this but more on that another time.)
Given how wonderful mountain biking is for the voice, I’m sure I could class it as part of my job. Couldn’t I? Research? Client bike rides?