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.
- Abdominal muscles
- Respiratory movements