Just as overuse and improper lifting can injure a weightlifter, overuse and improper technique can injure a singer or public speaker's vocal cords. Although many in these professions accept hoarseness as part of the job, prolonged or frequent hoarseness can damage or indicate damage to the vocal cords. If singing or preaching is your occupation, it is important to preserve your most valuable instrument. Accordingly, take proactive measures to avoid injury to your vocal cords and prevent hoarseness.
Drink a total of at least 64 ounces of water before, during and after your performance. Hydrating helps lubricate the vocal cords and prevent irritation. Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before your performance as these are dehydrating.
Warm up your voice for a minimum of 10 minutes before your performance. Example warm up exercises include making motorboat and vowel sounds while gently taking your voice through low to high tones. Additionally, take deep breaths to warm up your diaphragm. Roll the neck and alternate between exaggerated smiles and frowns to stretch the muscles of the face.
Fill your lungs with air before beginning to speak or sing. Take breaths throughout your performance to power your voice. Do not yell or scream as you preach or sing. Screaming strains the vocal cords and can cause hoarseness. Use a microphone instead.
Tips & Warnings
- Avoid smoking as this irritates and inflames the vocal cords.
- Use a humidifier when at home or in your office to help moisten the vocal cords.
- Rest your voice when you feel hoarseness setting in to allow the vocal cords to recover. This includes decreasing your speaking volume and keeping speaking or singing at a minimum.
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