Historically, teachers have been considered the occupational population that is most at-risk of developing voice disorders. Teachers may not have time to adequately hydrate, are possibly working in buildings with dry air and poor ventilation, and use their voices for hours everyday. But don’t confuse most at-risk population for only at-risk population.
Regardless of occupation, vocal health matters. And for those who use their voices consistently throughout the workday, it matters even more! Some of the chattiest populations include: therapists, interpreters, coaches, preachers, salespeople, fitness instructors, politicians, comedians, actors, reporters, singers, and hairdressers. (If I were listing those verbally, I’d need a sip of water!)
So besides being a HIPpie, what can you do to protect your voice?
Give it a rest! Commute time is an excellent opportunity to give your voice some recovery time. Instead of belting out along to Taylor Swift or catching up on phone calls, use this time to rest your hardworking vocal mechanism. Listen to an audiobook (I highly recommend Tina Fey’s Bossypants) or a podcast. You can even step it up further by using a car humidifier (yes, they make those!) or filling a water bottle to finish by the time you get home.
Stretch it out! Everyone knows that it’s important to stretch your muscles before and after exercising, to prevent injury. For some, especially the people listed above, speaking all day is the vocal equivalent of running a marathon. In addition to hydration and rest, try this quick relaxation sequence 2-4 times a day:
- Ear to Shoulder: Without lifting your shoulders, tilt your neck to the each side, holding for 20 seconds each
- Head Shake: Slowly shake your head like you’re saying “no”
- Head Nod: Slowly nod your head like you’re saying “yes”
- Head Circles: Start with your chin on your chest and spend 10 seconds circling to the right, then circling to the left
- Shoulder Drops: Take 4 turns slowly lifting your shoulders, then dropping them. Repeat 4 times
- Shoulder Circles: Take 4 turns slowly circling your shoulders from front to back, then back to front
- Belly Breaths: Finish with 3 deep diaphragmatic breaths. Fill your lungs with air, causing your stomach to expand outward. Try not to raise your shoulders!
Sara Frederick is a speech-language pathologist at The Hearing and Speech Agency
In Blog section
- Accent Modification, Accent Reduction
- Adult Aural Rehabilitation
- Apraxia of Speech in Adults
- Apraxia of Speech in Children
- Assistive Technology
- Auditory Processing Disorders
- Aural Rehabilitation for the Treatment of Speech Disorders in Children
- Hearing Aids for Children
- Cochlear Implants
- Hearing Aids
- Hearing Loss in Adults
- Hearing Loss in Children
- Hearing Protection
- Language-Based Learning Disabilities
- Speech Sound Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Voice Disorders