Healthy Narration Habits

#BoothHealth

What is #BoothHealth? I use my 15 years of experience as a medical myofascial therapist to educate fellow narrators on posture, breathing, and easy habits to stay healthy in the booth.

Swing to the Rhythm

When you hear the word POSTURE, do you automatically straighten your spine and throw your shoulders back? Yes, posture is all about alignment of our physical bodies, but let’s go one step further.

Posture is also how we perceive ourselves in the the world and in the space we inhabit. When we are sad, we slump. When we feel confident, our bodies are lifted. This is a form of communication between our minds and bodies that is easily read by other humans. Swing high today and open yourself to the sky. Then ride that swing down close to earth when you need a rest.

Enjoy the rhythm of your breath and life.

Holiday Advice

Let’s meet a muscle group that’s shaped like a Christmas tree. The Rhomboids are a group of muscles in the upper back which, when contracted, pull your shoulder blades together. They also help stabilize your shoulder blades against your ribs, and when they are strong, help maintain beautiful posture. Keep them strong by adding this little movement to your life.

Your Intertwined Web

The body’s tissue, fascia, is a complex intertwined web that encompasses every structure within our anatomy. Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, shows us, in this video, just how connected we really are. *squeamish alert, it’s a cadaver* When we sit like a banana, this is the continuous line of the fascial system that is being overstretched and weakened.

Your Eyes Need Breaks Too

Let’s look at the BACK of our heads. Meet the suboccipital muscle group which connects your cranium to the first two vertebrae of your neck. When looking at a computer screen all day, we tend to squint, strain, crane our necks forward. The suboccipital muscles are directly connected to eye movement and have a load of receptors that tell our brains where our head is, in space. When we have poor posture, the suboccipital muscles become tight and can send tension up into the head and down to the lower back and pelvis. Give your eyes regular rest breaks. Your body will thank you.

Tingler

It’s another “gadget” day and this one is an inexpensive DIY scalp “TINGLER.” We all know that the best part of getting our hair done at the salon is the scalp massage at the shampoo bowl. Why? Lots of nerve endings and touch receptors in the scalp send signals to the brain causing a relaxation response as well as an effect of “liveliness.” So, take a tingle break today.

Keep Your Head Up

I have another nice muscle for you to meet; Levator Scapulae. Its main job is to elevate the shoulder blade, but when we develop a head forward posture, it becomes overused and over stretched, causing weakness and pain. Try this stretch, using a towel, to keep from over extending your neck. Wrap the towel around the back of your neck, tilt your head back and pull GENTLY downward on the ends of the towel. Hold for about 10 seconds. If you feel pain, stop.

Use Your Big Toe

Here’s an exercise for strengthening the muscles of your lower legs. These muscles promote stability, prevent sprains, prevent falls, and prevent overuse injuries from exercising. And guess what? You can do it in your booth, at your desk, or on an airplane (remember those?). In a seated position, simply imagine your big toe is a pen and write the letters of the alphabet in the air.

Tuck that Chin!

Time for a corrective exercise for Forward Head Posture. FHP can lead to shoulder problems, neck pain and and vocal fold strain. Our own vocal expert, Nicola Redman, can tell you more about releasing your voice but here is a little start in the right direction.

This can be done while standing OR sitting:

Perform a chin tuck by keeping your chin parallel to the floor and drawing your head backwards.  This turns on the muscles in the front of your neck, so you might feel a sensation there.

You might also feel stretching in the back of the neck and at the base of the skull which is okay.

Do not push through pain.

Repeat at least 5 times.

Awake those Adductors!

Let’s all look at our groins today  A group of muscles called the adductors make up the area of the inner thigh known as the groin. These muscles bring the leg toward the center of the body, as in crossing one leg in front of the other. They are also stabilizers for sitting and standing. Too-tight or too-weak adductors can lead to hip or lower back pain. Try this stretch and squeeze a pillow to warm and awaken those adductors.

Take a Deep Breath

Take a deep breath and check out these three simple breathing exercises.

We may not think about breathing on a regular basis, but exercises like these can improve breathing stamina and control for performers such as long form narrators, singers, actors, and public speakers.

Check out this article from Consumer Reports.

Stretch that Psoas!

Today’s featured muscle is the Psoas (pronunciation Sō-az). It’s very deep and runs from our lower spine to the top of the upper leg bone (femur). After sitting for long periods, it can become tight or weak causing the pelvis to be pulled out of alignment and then, back pain. Give it a stretch when you break from the booth.

Your QL Needs Love

Today’s feature is one of my favorite muscles! The Quadratus Lumborum, also known as the QL, or hip hiker muscle, lifts the pelvis toward the ribcage with each step you take. It can become sore/tight/weak from excessive SITTING.

Give your QL a little love today.

A Booth Buddy for You!

This Back Buddy, or therapy cane, can help you get to those trigger points and sore spots when you’re all by yourself and can’t get to your Myofascial Therapist. I mean, we DO spend a lot of our time alone in the booth, so having a buddy is nice!

Malasana Pose

Time for another weekly tip on improving the lives of those of us who sit (or stand) for hours on end in a small space doing what we love to do, and any other occupation which holds the same hazard!



Squatting is a normal resting posture in traditional cultures where back pain is uncommon and mobility lasts into old age.

Try squatting when taking breaks from your booth today. When you need something down low to the floor, start a new habit of squatting to retrieve it. Soon you’ll feel more comfortable doing it and it will feel more natural. Your body will thank you.

Here is a great article, by Graham Ryan, that will tell you more.

CranioCradle

I have another gadget to share with you. The CranioCradle is a simple tool you can use to decompress and open your cervical spine. It has an effect on the nervous system allowing you to reach a nice relaxed state. There are different types but this one is more comfortable than some of the others, and can be used on the lower back as well.

DIY Massager

Here’s a DIY self massage gadget for those long hours in the booth (or the car). You just need a sock and a tennis ball. Place the ball inside the sock, fling that thing over your shoulder and control the placement with the open end of the sock. Now lean back against your chair or carseat. Enjoy!

Sit on Your Site

Find your Sitz Bones (sit bones.) When you sit on them, everything else lines up for a beautiful, open posture.

Try it!

Sit down, place your hands under your rear. Rock your pelvis back and forth until you feel your ischial tuberosity {that’s their real name} on both sides. When you feel centered on those bones, remove your hands so no one thinks you’re just sitting on your hands all day.

Enjoy your new sitting position.

Do you have a 42 Pound Head?

A human head weighs 10-12 lbs. Don’t let yours weigh 42 lbs. Here’s a stretch that can help to open up those tight muscles in the front of your upper body. There’s a lot going on in this head forward posture. Opening the front of the body is a good way to avoid pain patterns that develop from this posture, which is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome.

Do this stretch as you enter and exit your recording space.

Don’t be Like Bob

A note to my audiobook narrator friends as well as anyone else who works at a desk:

Don’t be like Bob! Besides the obvious misalignments of his skull, spine, hips and shoulders, his internal organs are squashed and cannot function to their full capacity.

Lift, breathe, and open up to get more oxygen to your hard working brain.

Eat Your Veggies

Narrator friends: we’ve all heard that eating apples while narrating keeps the mouth noises away. Well I learned this trick from Helen Lloyd as an even better mouth hydrator. Of course, I can’t stop wishing I had peanut butter in the booth to go with!

The Body in Action

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate about anatomical studies. This video fascinates me as an audiobook narrator and a human being! I can’t stop watching that tongue in action!

Good things come to those who narrate.