Fitness for Your Voice

August 17th, 2010

Your voice is a powerful expression of your identity and it is constantly affecting your interactions with everyone you meet. But it’s usually taken for granted until you lose it or fall ill. Keeping your voice healthy is not complicated. Cultivating a few basic behaviors will help guarantee it will be there when you need it.

Experts agree one of the most important things you can do for your voice is get plenty of rest. Your voice is highly sensitive to fatigue. It will show symptoms of fatigue even before you are conscious of being tired—it just won’t work right. So leave the party and get your beauty rest, especially if you have a lot of speaking to do the next day.

Make hydration a habit. Your vocal cords are sensitive mucous membranes, and they’re happiest when wet. Taking a sip of water to relieve dryness when you’re speaking might make your mouth feel better, but doesn’t touch your vocal cords. (Good thing, otherwise you would cough violently.) Hydrating your voice happens from the inside out, over time. The best approach is to make hydration part of your lifestyle. Your whole body will be happier.

Warm up before using your voice extensively, speaking loudly and/or for long periods of time. No athlete dreams of competing without first doing a warm-up. Without it, they can’t achieve their best performance, and risk injuring themselves. The same is true for your voice. No matter how much knowledge or experience you have, your voice will do things after 20-30 minutes of warm-up that it just can’t do when starting cold. An adequate warm-up addresses relaxation (your whole body), breath flow (open and generous), and resonance (feeling sound vibrations throughout your body).

People who use their voices professionally might also consider influences such as diet, air quality, temperature and vocal rest.

Though you may pay little attention to your voice, it is a primary element of communication, a critical reflection of your personal image and a powerful instrument to impact those around you. Providing a few simple supports can ensure its health and enable you to perform effectively in any situation.

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