On April 16, voice enthusiasts the world over celebrate the extraordinary human voice. As audiologists and speech-language pathologists, we use our voices a lot. This year, in honor of World Voice Day, treat your voice to a full day at the vocal spa for some vocal pampering.
When you’re done pampering your weary voice, share these activities with clients or other hard-talking professionals, such as singers, actors, teachers, customer service agents, physical and occupational therapists, lawyers, and many more.
Vocal wear and tear is the greatest occupational hazard for our nation’s teachers. What have we learned from them?
We all experience vocal fatigue and it’s a common issue with clients in a busy voice clinic. While we can’t plug in our larynx overnight to recharge, we can take steps to recharge and rejuvenate the voice.
A Day at the Vocal Spa
Completing some vocal calisthenics in the morning can do a lot to get the voice calibrated and warm for a busy vocal day. Lip or tongue trills and gentle hums are a great way to get the voice up and running. Try these exercises again at the end of a busy vocal day to cool down.
Steam room and Roman bath
Steamers and vaporizers are popular for singers and other professional voice users. Many people enjoy the warm soothing feeling of a personal steam inhaler. Others might benefit from a humidifier for their room or work area.
Vocal spa massage duo
Mini massage for the vocal folds. Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises such as straw phonation can act like a little massage for the vocal folds by encouraging gentle range of motion and efficient vocal fold vibration. This not only warms up the voice, but can even facilitate some healing and recovery after extended voice use. Tom Burke, SLP and voice teacher, describes the benefits of straw phonation below.
Swedish massage for the neck and jaw. Sometimes voice fatigue is related to stress in surrounding muscles, such as jaw, neck, and tongue. Massaging these areas can help relieve some discomfort accumulated from a day of voice use. Some people find relief with a warm neck and shoulder pillow.
Hydrotherapy for the vocal tract and larynx
Many factors can lead to a sense of dryness in the throat, and dehydrated vocal folds can fatigue more quickly. A personal hand-held nebulizer with .09% saline is like getting a hydro-facial for your throat. The micronized saline infuses hydration into the nasal passage, throat and laryngeal area, leaving you with moist tissue. This tends to be more moisturizing than a traditional personal steamer.
This year’s theme for World Voice Day is “Be kind with your voice.” Incorporating some of these tips in your daily routine helps you be kind to your voice and improves your voice-related quality of life. It enables you to put your best voice forward. We only get one—so don’t be afraid to pamper your voice every day!
Marci Daniels Rosenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a voice and singing specialist at the University of Michigan Vocal Health Center and also serves as the onsite clinical vocal health consultant for the University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre. She is co-author of The Vocal Athlete and serves as vice president of the Pan-American Vocology Association. firstname.lastname@example.org