Why we need this stretch:
In the middle of your upper spine is a point which is very important to the voice because of what it does for your breath and your open (or not) throat. It is a physical pivot point. It's about an inch or so below the bottom points of your shoulder blades.
My chiropractor, Dr. Dwaine Allison, says this is also a pressure point for the diaphragm, affecting (and freeing) the nerve pathway. This point must be flexible, and often it is quite tight, especially when you don't know what it does for you.
To see how it works, try putting your hand way up in your back and press your chest forward. I bet you took a breath without even meaning to! Your head also moved back, freeing up the back of your throat.
At a rehearsal for "Runaway Home", our choreographer "Sweet Sue" Kirkes taught a stretch that just happened to be wildly useful for loosening this area up. I've had great success with my students when I add this to our routine before vocalizing. Thanks, Sue!
Here's how you do...
The Rib Stretch:
- Stand with your hips stationary.. very important. Freeze your hips in one place.
- Move the bottom of your ribcage forward.
- Move your ribcage to the side (like a typewriter), not lifting your shoulder.
- Move your ribcage inwards (bowing your back).
- Move your ribcage to the other side (like a typewriter), again, keep shoulders level.
- Reverse directions.
- Still keeping your hips steady, circle your ribcage around smoothly touching the previous points of stretch.
- Circle your ribcage in the other direction.
ps... follow me on Twitter here