A cough is a protective reflex that acts to clear the large breathing passages of foreign particles, microbes, phlegm, saliva, other fluids. Cough ejects obstructions to breathing, and stretches and contracts various muscles. It involves a forced exhalation of air against a closed glottis. The diaphragm creates the pressure and when this pressure reaches a certain level the glottis and vocal cords open resulting in a violent release of air from the lungs. It is very similar to a laugh, and in a sense is like a hiccup in reverse. I believe that it may also be a mechanism for delivering blood to sensitive respiratory tissues and play an important function in health. By the time they are old many people have a very weak, highly strained cough that probably no longer performs its most important functions. For this reason, this short section will guide you in rehabbing your cough.
Most people’s coughs are full of so much tension that each cough pits different muscles against each other, damaging and wearing each other down. Most people cough violently or not at all. This maybe because we are accustomed to thinking of coughing as a negative thing, associated with disease and death. Instead, think of it as positive and healthy, and do it gently.
Vocal Exercise #4: Detraumatize Your Cough
Cough one hundred times in under five minutes. Start very gently and find a safe, sustainable cough. Build up to a more forceful cough while ensuring that there is zero associated pain or strain. Inhale slowly and deeply then cough until you have no air left, and repeat. Focus on coughing in different ways, at different levels of depth, intensity and pitch. Stick out your tongue. Experiment with a barking cough, a whooping cough, and a staccato cough. Try to extend a cough creating a single raspy sound over several seconds. Think of this as an antifrailty exercise intended to rehabilitate your cough. Search for dormant muscle. Afterwards pay attention to any tension or bracing that may have been caused by the exercise and quell it.
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