Every person who sings knows what vocal strains are, and may have most probably been a victim of vocal strains. People who use their singing voice very often face vocal strains. Vocal strains is very common among singers, and if you are tired of having to deal with it very frequently, you need to learn how to try prevent it and most especially treat or get rid of it.
What Is Vocal Strain
Vocal strains, which is also known as muscle tension and medically known as dysphonia can be define as the painful, discomfort, or uncomfortable sensation that we feel in our throat whenever we have over used our vocal cords. This usually happens when you push your voice to do things it is not used to doing, like hitting a very high note for the first time without preparing your vocal cords.
Your vocal cords are meant to help you sing, but when you push yourself out of your voice capacity, intrinsic muscles around your throat will have to help which will cause muscle tension and vocal strains. This can be presented as a voice problem or issue which can drastically reduce the quality of your voice and make you sound very awful and also make your throat feel very awful.
Most times vocal strains are not really serious. But sometimes, it may need medical attention and requires proper treatment, care and maintenance to prevent further or permanent damages. Vocal cord strain are of two types, the primary type and the secondary type.
The primary type; This primary type of vocal strain or tension is one which does not have a direct or specific cause, but just happens. It involves increase of the tension of the laryngeal muscle which result in stab of pain whenever you try to speak and decrease in the quality and sound of your voice.
The secondary type; This type of vocal strain is usually caused by a very serious medical issue like vocal fold lesions. These cause discomfort and severe pain when you try to move your neck or spear or raise your voice. The pain will go away only when medically treated.
Causes Of Vocal Strain
When there is an increase of tension in the laryngeal and the para pharyngeal muscle surrounding the voice box, this will cause vocal strains and muscle tension. The unwelcomed tension will affect the vibration of the vocal folds, and these vocal folds are the folds of mucous membranes which stretches right across the larynx.
Many things can cause vocal strains and muscle tension such as pneumonia, could weather, respiratory infection, smoking, harsh alcohol, acid reflux, over using of voice.
Symptoms Of Vocal Strain
When you have strained vocal cords, there are a few symptoms you will experience, they might not come at you all at once, in few days some might start to manifest especially when you ignore the pain and discomfort and regard its as minor.
Dry cough; If you have strained your vocal cords, one of the things you will suffer is dry cough, and it is usually very painful anytime you cough.
Hoarseness; People who suffer from vocal strains will experience change in their voice, they voice may become scratchy and odd to hear. For some people, it may hurt when they speak or try to sing or scream.
Throat pains; Throat pains is the most common symptom of strained vocal cords, when your vocal cord is strained, your throat muscle may become thought or constrict anytime you try to talk or swallow or sing. And maybe sometimes results in medical assistant.
Inability to control your voice; When your vocal cords is strained, it be become difficult to project the sound of your voice or control the sound that you want. Strained vocal cords can lead to disturbance in the range and normal sound of your voice and it can make your voice to start cracking or become raspy.
How To Prevent Vocal Strain
Below are a few tips which will help you prevent vocal strains and also relax your vocal cords .
Always be hydrated; You should always keep your throat lubricated, and the best lubricant is water, clean water or warm water, it will keep your throat and vocal cord happy and keep your voice safe. Another good liquid you can use as lubricant for your throat is tea and honey, this is also quite famous for singers to take before singing.
Tea and honey will soothe your throat before singing and after singing, just don’t take it too hot, warm is okay. But in case you don’t have and honey or tea, water is forever your best option.
Be mindful of your food choices; Yes, some singer do not know, but the kind of foods you eat can also affect the function of your vocal cord. Do not eat few minutes before singing, your voice won’t come out well, you should eat at least one or two hours before you sing and before you do your regular warm up. You need to avoid fatty or oily foods or even drink with much fat like milk or gas like sodas in them.
I’m sure you don’t know this bit caffeine is not a good idea as well, because coffee constricts your vocal cords too. When consuming foods before singing, make sure they are not too hot to cold, you should have them at room temperature or warm. When you prepare your vocal cords properly, you can avoid mishaps when singing and prevent vocal strains.
Warming up; An excellent way to reduce vocal strains or muscle tension is by warming up, as a singer, warm ups should be part of your everyday life. You should warm up in a place that is warm and humid like the shower for instance when you bath with warm water. Or you can warm up by singing vowel and emphasizing them in sentences. You should do exercise frequently and for long periods of time until you think your voice has been warmed up fully.
Practicing breathing exercises; You should also know how to breath correctly while singing, and be able to manipulate your diaphragm while singing, so your breathing exercises are very important to perfect your skills. There are a large number of breathing exercises you can try, like think of your stomach as a gallon, and breathing in to fill that balloon and letting the air slowly.
Having good posture; While singing, your posture is very essential for success. With the wrong posture, you will obstruct the air passage and cause disruption in the sound of your voice. If you’re standing while singing, both your shoulders should be square and firm, your head, back and legs should be straight, you can practice using a wall. Having good posture while singing will help you avoid straining your voice and hurting your vocal cords while singing.
Practicing/Singing in a clean environment; You need all the good air while singing, and practicing in a clean environment will be perfect for you. There should be no odd smell like cleaning agents, or harsh perfume or stale food around while you practice because those smells can affect your vocal cords. The room where you practice must have abundant air circulation and free of any smoke or toxic smells. If you don’t have a well ventilated room, you can get an air humidifier to keep your air moisturized and avoid your throat drying up quickly .
Rest your throat and voice; You should always give your voice a break from singing or practicing or talking. You should always work with time, like have a particular time for singing and taking a break. If you stress your voice too much, you will give way for vocal strains, you should always give your voice lots of time to rest after very heavy use. This will keep your vocal cord in good shape.
Voice therapy if needed; If you are finding it hard to do it all by yourself, you can try voice therapy, it will teach you how to make use of your voice without sending too much stimulation to your vocal cords. Voice therapy will also help you manage your voice in a proper manner and also aid vocal endurance. You should try doing some of these methods yourself before determining if voice therapy is the best option for you.
How To Relax Strained Vocal cords
It is very uncomfortable and sometimes painful when you hurt your vocal cords, and you might get desperate trying different ways to make it feel better. There are a few things you can do to make your throat feel better. You can consider drinking tea and honey, the tea will help soothe your throat while the honey and it’s healing properties will reduce the strain on your vocal cords.
You can decide to have warm water and honey too water is natural and so is honey. Simple breathing exercises with your mouth open to allow air get into your throat and reduce the dryness in your throat. The air should be humid, clean and smoke free you can do this in your shower.
If you have tried these two methods for a few days or a week and your throat still feels as bad as it did before you tried these methods, you will need to visit the doctor immediately so some tests can be carried out because it might not just be vocal strains but some thing more serious like a medical illness such as acid reflux, throat or respiratory infections, results of smoking.