How To Take Take Care of Your Vocals

If you have ever played any sport, you know that your muscles need time to rest between high intensity activities. Not resting causes your muscles to fatigue, lose that consistency you trained so hard for, and puts you at risk for injury. 

If you’re a singer, these same rules apply to your voice. Your voice is a muscle and if you want to train it to be accurate or to get the best results out of it, then you need to learn how to take care of your voice. You need to learn how to rest your voice and what to do so your voice is in tip top shape. In this article, we’ll go over what you need to know to keep your voice in the best condition possible.

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What Causes Voice Problems?

Your voice (or vocal folds) comes from the two bands of tissue at the top of your windpipe. The tension and vibration of these bands of tissue are what determines your pitch and overall unique quality of your voice. In order for them to work properly, they need to be soft, flexible, and void of any irritation.

Does Your Voice Need A Break?

In your lifetime you may have experience the following symptoms.

  • Difficulty hitting higher notes
  • Naturally lower pitch or voice
  • Hoarseness or raspiness in your voice
  • Your throat aches, feels raw, or is strained
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Having to regularly clear your throat
These are all signs that your vocal folds have become in some way fatigued or damaged. When you feel these symptoms you should do everything you can to go on vocal rest and try to avoid speaking whenever possible. Severe or long term cases may even require assistance from a specialist, also known as a otolaryngologist or ENT.

Healthy Habits For Taking Care of Your Voice

Stay Hydrated

The importance of water can’t be overstated. There’s no such thing as too much water for someone who uses their voice on a regular basis. Drink as much water as possible, especially if you’re exercising, drinking caffeine, or consuming alcohol. Often times our voice responds to how much water we drank the day before and not how much we drank today. Don’t think that chugging a bunch of water right before a performance will solve your problems. If you have a performance, plan anywhere from two days to a week in advance if you want to make sure you’re in top condition.

Staying in a well humidified room is also important. Especially when you sleep. Harsh winters cause us to turn on the heat which lowers the humidity of our house. Consider investing in a $50 humidifier and keep it on next to your bed while you sleep. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference that can make.

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Keep A Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Water isn’t the only thing that effects our voice. The quality of the food you eat also makes a huge impact. Eating lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help give you the proper nutrients to remove mucus and have a clean and healthy windpipe.

Avoid smoking or being in places that have lots of second hand smoke. Smoking irritates the vocal folds and has both short and long term health effects.

Avoid eating spicy foods or anything that can cause acid reflux or heartburn.

Get enough rest. Vocal rest alone is not enough. Get your eight hours of sleep a night to effectively reinvigorate your voice.

Exercise is important. Keeping yourself in good physical condition is not just good for your vocal folds but also helps with posture and breath control.

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Don't Misuse Your Voice

Many people put extra strain on their voice when they don’t have to. If your voice is feeling fatigued or sore, don’t do any more talking than you absolutely have to. Be sure to get lots of extra rest when you’re sick or tired as well.

Make sure you’re talking and singing at the right volumes. Talking too loud can be hard on your voice but talking too soft can also provide extra strain on your voice. The extremes of your singing and talking are also hard on your voice. Avoid whispering or screaming, especially if your voice is already tired.

Practice good breathing exercises. Your breath is the source of your voice and it is very common for untrained speakers or singers to use improper breathing techniques. If you find yourself repeatedly straining your voice it may be worth hiring a vocal coach or speech pathologist to help you with good breath support.

Don't Overlook The Details

Even though speaking and singing is something we do every day, that doesn’t mean we always make the best decisions for our voice. Many students find out they’ve been breathing wrong their entire lives. The little details add up and it’s important you take care of your voice for both the long term and short term health benefits.

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