Our voices need to be heard. But what good is a voice if we don’t take care of it? Every year on April 16, otolaryngologists – head and neck surgeons – and other voice health professionals worldwide join together to recognize World Voice Day. World Voice Day encourages everyone to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits. A lot of professionals north-america wide have sponsored or supported World Voice Day since its inception in 2002. And here at Release Your Voice, we certainly do as well!
Many professionals warn against the following when it comes to keeping your vocal chords healthy!:
Voice Misuse and Overuse
Speaking is a physical task that requires coordination of breathing with the use of several muscle groups. It should come as no surprise that, just like in any other physical task, there are efficient and inefficient ways of using your voice. Excessively loud, prolonged, and/or inefficient voice use can lead to vocal difficulties, just like improper lifting can lead to back injuries. Excessive tensionin the neck and laryngeal muscles, along with poor breathing technique during speech leads to vocal fatigue, increased vocal effort, and hoarseness. Voice misuse and overuse puts you at risk for developing benign vocal cord lesions or a vocal cord hemorrhage.
Common situations that are associated with voice misuse:
- Speaking in noisy situations
- Excessive cellular phone use
- Telephone use with the handset cradled to the shoulder
- Using inappropriate pitch (too high or too low) when speaking
- Not using amplification when publicly speaking
Key Steps for Keeping Your Voice Healthy:
- Drink plenty of water. Moisture is good for your voice. Hydration helps to keep thin secretions flowing to lubricate your vocal cords. Drink plenty (up to eight 8-ounce glasses is a good minimum target) of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day.
- Try not to scream or yell. These are abusive practices for your voice, and put great strain on the lining of your vocal cords.
- Warm up your voice before heavy use. Most people know that singers warm up their voices before a performance, yet many don’t realize the need to warm up the speaking voice before heavy use, such as teaching a class, preaching, or giving a speech. Warm-ups can be simple, such as gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds, doing lip trills (like the motorboat sound that kids make), or tongue trills.
- Don’t smoke. In addition to being a potent risk factor for laryngeal (voice box) cancer, smoking also causes inflammation and polyps of the vocal cords that can make the voice very husky, hoarse, and weak.
Celebrate your voice! Let us know on Twitter @ReleaseUrVoice or through email: firstname.lastname@example.org at how you’re going to do just that. Keep an eye on more tips and tricks leading up to the 16th!