A healthy voice is crucial for any vocalist to produce clear, powerful, and flexible sounds. It is their primary instrument, and without a healthy voice, they may not be able to perform or record.
Being a professional vocalist requires a big investment of time and energy. So, it is essential to take care of your voice to ensure that you can continue to perform and record for many years to come.
Let’s take a look at nine different ways that will help you take care of your voice.
1. Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated will protect your voice by keeping the vocal cords lubricated. The vocal cords are two bands of muscle located in the larynx (voice box) that vibrate to produce sound when we speak. When the body is dehydrated, the vocal cords can become dry and inflamed, which can make them less flexible and more prone to injury.
When vocal cords are well-hydrated, they can move more easily and produce sound more efficiently. This can help you prevent strain and hoarseness, and promote clear, healthy vocal production. Adequate hydration also helps to maintain the mucous lining in the throat and larynx, which helps to keep the vocal cords lubricated and reduce the risk of infection.
Drinking water, herbal teas, and fruit juice can help to hydrate your body and keep your vocal cords lubricated.
2. Avoid Foods and Drinks That Can Dry Out the Throat
Certain foods and drinks can dry out your throat and vocal cords. This makes it harder to speak clearly and can cause the voice to become hoarse.
Alcohol is one such beverage that can dehydrate the body and dry out the throat and vocal cords. Similarly, caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it can cause the body to lose fluids, leading to dehydration and drying out the voice.
Dairy products such as milk and cheese can also be harmful to vocal cords. They can increase mucus production, making it more difficult to speak clearly. Spicy foods can also irritate your throat by causing dryness and discomfort.
Consuming large amounts of refined sugar and processed foods can also be harmful to vocal cords. They can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to vocal dryness and discomfort.
It’s important to be aware of how your body reacts to certain foods and drinks, and adjust accordingly. Excessive consumption of any type of food or drink, even healthy ones, can be harmful to your voice. We recommend that you maintain a balanced diet and be mindful of the foods and drinks that you consume, particularly when you have a recording or a performance coming up.
3. Stay Away From Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke
Smoking and second-hand smoke can bother vocal artists because they can cause damage to the vocal cords and surrounding tissue.
The smoke from cigarettes contains a variety of harmful chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. These chemicals can irritate and dry out the vocal cords, making them more prone to injury and infection. They can also cause inflammation and swelling, which can make it harder to produce sound and can cause a hoarse voice.
Smoking can also increase the risk of developing voice disorders such as laryngeal cancer and chronic laryngitis. It can also cause long-term damage to the lungs and respiratory system, which will affect the overall health of a voice.
Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), can have similar effects on the vocal cords as smoking.
For a voice actor, singer, or narrator, it’s important to maintain healthy vocal cords and overall health. Thus, avoiding smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke is essential.
4. Exercise Regularly to Help Improve Breathing
Regular exercise can help improve breathing by strengthening the muscles used in breathing and promoting better lung function. When you exercise, your body demands more oxygen, and your respiratory system responds by increasing the rate and depth of your breathing. This increased demand for oxygen causes the diaphragm and intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) to contract more forcefully and strengthen over time.
Additionally, regular exercise can also help to improve lung function by increasing the efficiency of the respiratory system. The lung’s elasticity improves, allowing them to expand more fully and take in more oxygen. This can also help to remove carbon dioxide and other waste gases from the body more efficiently.
Exercise can also help to improve overall cardiovascular health, which can contribute to better breathing. Regular exercise can increase the strength of the heart and help deliver oxygen to the body more efficiently.
Finally, regular exercise can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety cause the body to tense up, including the chest and diaphragm, and make breathing more difficult. Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxed breathing throughout the day.
5. Practice Good Posture
Good posture helps to keep the chest open, the shoulders back, and the diaphragm in the optimal position for deep breathing. When the chest is open, it allows for the lungs to expand fully. This allows you to take in more oxygen to support your voice more effectively. When the diaphragm is in the correct position, it can contract and relax more easily, regulate the breath, and support the voice.
Additionally, good posture can also help to align the larynx correctly. When the head and neck are in the correct alignment, it can help to keep the larynx in a neutral position. This will help reduce tension in the voice and promote clear, healthy vocal production.
Practicing good posture can help you breathe more efficiently, reduce strain on the vocal cords, and take care of your voice so you can keep doing what you love.
6. Stretch and Warm Up Your Voice Before Performing
Just like any other muscle in the body, the muscles used for vocal production need to be warmed up before use. Warming up the voice can help to increase blood flow to the vocal cords and surrounding muscles. This helps to lubricate the cords and reduce the risk of injury. It can also help to improve the flexibility and range of the voice, making it easier to produce sound.
Stretching the muscles of the face, jaw, and neck can also help to prepare your voice for performance. These facial stretches will help release tension and promote relaxation for speaking movements. Vocal warm-up exercises such as humming, lip trills, and tongue trills can help you loosen up these muscles.
Breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can also help you prepare your voice.
By stretching and warming up the voice before a performance, a voice actor can mitigate the risk of injury, promote proper breathing and reduce vocal tension, and produce clear, healthy vocal tracks.
7. Use a Humidifier to Add Moisture to the Air
The vocal cords are located in the larynx (voice box) and are situated at the top of the trachea (windpipe). The larynx is lined with mucous membranes that protect the vocal cords and keep them lubricated. When the air is dry, it can cause the mucous membranes to dry out and become irritated.
Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air can help to keep the mucous membranes lubricated and hydrated. This can combat the risk of dryness, inflammation, and infection. Humidifiers can also help to reduce the risk of hoarseness and sore throat.
It’s important to note that, it’s good to use a humidifier to add moisture to the air especially when you are in a dry or heated environment. These conditions can cause the air to be dry and may make it more difficult to speak. Additionally, it’s important to clean and maintain the humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of mold bacteria, and other microorganisms that can cause infection.
8. Work With a Voice Coach or Speech Therapist to Improve Your Technique
A voice coach or speech therapist can help to evaluate your voice and identify any issues such as vocal nodules, polyps, or other conditions that may be causing strain or injury to the vocal cords. They can also teach proper breathing and vocal production techniques.
A voice coach or speech therapist can also help you address any other issues that may be affecting your voice. These other issues may be related to stress, anxiety, or another underlying cause that makes your body tense up and breathe/speak uncomfortably.
9. Take Time Off to Let Your Voice Recover
When vocal cords are overused, they become inflamed and swollen. This discomfort makes it harder to produce sound and can cause the voice to become hoarse.
Taking time off to let your voice recover can help reduce inflammation and give your vocal cords a chance to heal. Additionally, taking time off to let the voice recover can also help to prevent the development of more serious conditions such as nodules, polyps, and other vocal cord lesions which can cause permanent damage to your voice.
It’s good to be aware of your body and signs of vocal strain (hoarseness, sore throat, and fatigue) and take time off when necessary to allow your voice to recover. Be careful not to push your voice too hard when it’s already tiring, and take breaks frequently when recording or performing.
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