There’s no way to sugarcoat it – chronic pain sucks. But studies have shown that singing can have a positive effect on both the mental health issues that arise as a result of it, and the physical effects too. So how good is singing at fighting chronic pain and how does it work?
Singing Boosts Acceptance
One of the most difficult things about chronic pain is accepting that it is a part of your life. Where you were once young, fit, and healthy, chronic pain makes you feel older, unfit, and unhealthy. And even thinking about the future can be exhausting. Singing has been a tool to help people through some of the darkest times in their lives for many years. You belt out a tune that resonates, and suddenly, you don’t feel so alone in your pain. This helps bring acceptance, which in turn, can lead to a more positive, motivating mood.
Singing Works the Muscles
Chronic pain can often (not always) occur when muscles become weak and no longer do the supporting job that they are supposed to do. However, taking a little time each day to sing at the top of your lungs can really work your abs and intercostal muscles, strengthening them without too much effort, so that the cause of some types of chronic pain can be lessened.
Singing Releases Endorphins
Perhaps the most powerful benefit of singing is the way it can boost your mood. When you sing, you tickle the vagus nerve that runs along your spine and all the way up into your brain. Here it stimulates those feel-good endorphins that make you happy. Not only do you feel more positive about your ailment, but studies have proven that endorphins can actually reduce pain.
Many opioid medications aim to do the same thing, boosting endorphins to help you find relief. But these come with side effects. Singing has very few side effects, making it a more powerful option than these kinds of painkillers.
Singing Helps You Control Your Breathing
There is a reason pregnant women are encouraged to practice their breathing techniques for labour. When you focus on your breathing and taking fuller, deeper breaths, you are better able to deal with pain. Since singing requires you to use your lungs in a big way, you become better able to control your breathing. So, when you have a major pain attack, you can breathe through it more effectively, helping you to cope.
Singing is a Great Distraction
Sometimes, the pain can seem worse when you sit and focus on it. Singing is one of the best distractions around, allowing you to get lost in the music, the lyrics, and the rhythm. After a few songs, you soon forget the intensity of your pain and might even find that you’re enjoying yourself!
Singing Promotes Good Posture
If your chronic pain is because of weak joints, working on your posture can be beneficial. When you sing out loud, you need to stand up straight to give your body the space it needs to hit every note. This improved posture can bring strength to sore joints, which can reduce pain.
Sing in a Group for Best Results
While singing alone provides all these benefits and more, many studies have shown that singing in group situations enhances the effectiveness of this tool for pain relief. One of the key benefits of group singing is the sense of community and connectivity that you get from being near people doing the same thing as you. And many of them will have stories like yours, so you can exchange notes and unload the mental anguish of chronic pain on someone who understands.
Group singing is also thought to help improve sleep, which is the best medicine for lots of illnesses. The better you sleep, the better you are able to face the day, and the better prepared to cope with pain. And, when it comes to those all-important endorphins, these are boosted further in a group singing situation.
If you want to try singing in a group or on your own, then we would love to help! We believe in the power of singing and the benefits it has for both physical and mental health. Our supportive vocal coaches will be by your side to guide your voice alongside the group so that you feel better and have a little fun at the same time.
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