A few pointers about lip swelling, which can be caused by many factors, but will be alleviated by doing the following:
1. Do gentle horseflaps (slow, floppy lip buzzing, away from the mpc/horn)
2. Do double-low pedal tones for 3-5 minutes 3-4 times per day (these begin at the C two octaves below middle C (first line below the staff), and will also help you with range, airflow and endurance.
BE CAREFUL TO AVOID PLAYING TOO LOUDLY!!!!
Playing too loudly, besides causing the lips to swell, can also cause pressure blisters which can lead to the formation of scar tissue and even cysts (if you are prone to developing them).
3. Drink ample water while playing. Let me repeat that:
DRINK A LOT OF WATER BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER PLAYING!!!!!
<<N.B. If you have kidney disease, be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes>>
The reason for this is simple. Our bodies are made up of high percentages of water, and when we are dehydrated (don't have enough fluid in our systems), the body resorts to tactics to preserve tissues by using lymph fluid (swelling) to make up for the missing water in the cells (simplified explanation, so don't go crazy trying to complicate it, folks).
The ONLY way to prevent this is by drinking adequate water.
Water refreshes you, keeps your mouth and lips moist, keeps your throat and lungs from drying out, etc.
A good benchmark is to drink 8 oz. of water (sipping periodically) during every 45 minutes of playing. And, just for good measure (no pun intended), drink 8 oz. before you start to play, and another 12-16 oz when you are done.
Yes, you will need to visit the restroom more often. But it's worth it to avoid the swelling problem.
4. Cut excess sodium from your diet. This means no carbonated beverages, no pizza, no Chinese food (unless it's without MSG), no packaged prepared foods (modified food starch), no pretzels (unless unsalted) or popcorn (unless unsalted and unbuttered), etc. Btw, you might just improve your health along the way.
5. Avoid alcohol, coffee and any other cafeinated beverages (that
includes chocolate!, tea, and CHAI tea--I know, but it's for your
TRUMPet, dear!), as they cause your body to lose fluids faster. In fact, if you drink one 12 oz cup of coffee (or one 12 oz. can of soda) you need to drink 24 oz of water to replace the water lost and get back the benefit of the 12 oz of WATER you should have drunk in the first place!)<G>
6. Do not use camphor or menthol on your lips (no Blistix or Chapstix). GNC puts out a product called Lip Rescue which contains tea tree oil, as well as non-toxic emolliants (no lanolin) which works very nicely to heal sore lips of every sort, including chapped lips.
7. Avoid sun on your lips. This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people go out in the sun without sunscreen on their lips (Zinc Oxide ointment is the best, comes in different colors for fun, is a total block), and wind up with sunblisters, which act like cold sores.
8. Adhere to a regular schedule of playing EVERY day. This accomodates your lip tissues to the stress of vibration and they will toughen up... DON't, however, overdo. Far better to do several 5-10 minute sessions spread out, than one 45-60 minute session all at once, particularly if you're a CP (comeback player).
9. Be careful of your aftershave lotion(try to avoid getting it onto your lips).
10. Avoid hot foods and beverages, which may burn your lips on the way in. Often when we burn our tongue we forget that the lips have also been burned.
11. In the same vein, avoid spicy foods (for the same reason as in number 9<!>)
12. Consider changing to a gold-plated mouthpiece, or have your mouthpiece refinished (sometimes microscopic pits in the mpc rim may harbor bacteria or repeatedly injure your lips at contact).
13. Be sure that you are not rolling your lips inward, over the edges of the teeth (like you're pretending you have no teeth). This can traumatize the delicate lip membrane.
14. Apply ice (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) for the first 24 hours, then apply warm compresses as needed thereafter.
15. Take a mild anti-inflamatory such as aspirin or Tylenol (acetaminophen) before playing (afterwards won't help as much). Drink plenty of WATER with it (16 oz of water is good, drink 4-8 oz beforehand, swallow the pill with another 4 oz, then finish the water).
16. This is a no-brainer, but I have to say it anyway: Avoid heavy pressure kissing. Teach your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend to respect your chops. And don't kiss ANYone on the lips who has any type of sore there. It isn't worth the risk of catching a cold sore(if you're susceptible).
17. Also,(this I learned from Leon Merian many years ago <THANK-YOU MBTH!>), before playing on your mouthpiece rub it on the side of your neck or your cheek to make sure the pH balance is correct for your skin. This will avoid getting any comedos on your lips (vernacular word is zits* ) <G>
18. It goes without saying that you should not be applying mpc pressure to your lips. The only pressure is enough to seal the mpc against the lips, which are sealed against each other. And you are playing with wet lips, AREN"T YOU?!!?
19. Finally, be sure that you have the mouthpiece placed correctly. In my experience as a teacher (30+ years, now) I've found that students with thick lips will sometimes place the mpc down, into the red(membrane) of the lips.
This tissue is very FRAGILE and can't handle that sort of stress. It's important to place the inner, upper edge of the rim just above the ridge where the red(membrane) meets the white/brown(muscle) of the upper lip, at a minimum (some players place it even higher). If you are cutting off the red of the lip it can't vibrate properly and you will have problems with swelling, range, endurance and tone quality.
Hth, let me know if you'd like more details on any of this.
Jeanne G Pocius
The Chop Doc