What Are the Best Vocal Health Practices?
Vocal health can sometimes be overlooked or just undervalued by voice actors.
Often, vocal warm up techniques, diet and water intake and just getting out there and auditioning for roles takes up most of the brain space and time for the average voice actor.
But maintaining a good vocal health routine can be so important for voice actors; a healthy throat, vocal cords, mouth and lungs is everything!
In this article, we’ll talk to several experts who fill us in on the three most important vocal health practices for voice actors.
Strengthening The Pelvic Floor
Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, a Doctor of Physical Therapy who works regularly with voice actors and singers, says weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to tons of issues for vocal performers.
“Vocalization requires control of your diaphragm, and the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles work together to provide support during vocalization,” she explains.
“When we are producing louder sounds, or singing, activation of muscles in the face, neck, abdominals and pelvic floor all must be active to maintain a strong and steady sound. Coordinated actions of these muscles regulate air pressure throughout the body.”
Dr. Jeffcoat says a 2012 study by a women’s health physiotherapist in the United Kingdom, created a pilot study to show if singing could be used as the main pelvic floor exercise for women who had symptoms of pelvic floor weakness.
The study’s participants were taught how to correctly fire a pelvic floor contraction, while doing a simple singing practice like scales; with both short and long pelvic floor muscle contractions while holding a note. After the participants got the technique down, they were told to sing using the pelvic floor muscle exercises for a minimum of 15 minutes a day, five times a week for 3 weeks.
After the trial period, most of the participants showed an improvement in their pelvic floor strength.
In 2018, Emerich Gordon & Reed conducted a literature review that weaved together the findings in the importance of pelvic floor muscle’s role in breathing, posture, and regulation of intra-abdominal pressure.
This medical review aimed to show how incorporating the pelvic floor exercises in voice coaching and voice science could help improve vocal performance for many professionals.
“What both researchers found was a connection that could be utilized to help people reach their goals of healthier pelvic floors and better singing ability,” she said.
Dr. Kasen Somana, a cosmetic dentist says smoking is the arch nemesis of voice actors.
“Think of it as a lifelong battle between nicotine and your vocal cords,” he says. “Without a functional voice, you can expect to say goodbye to any interaction, or worse if you are a singer, to your job.”
Limiting Exposure to Allergens
While it might not seem like a hygiene-related topic for voice actors right away, think about this: if your living environment is messy, dirty, moldy or dusty, it could cause your body to have an allergic reaction or even stimulate some allergies symptoms.
Ava Collins, a seasoned public speaker says limiting exposure to allergens is fundamental to avoiding any voice disorders or unneeded strain.
“The mucous membranes in the airways can become irritated by allergies. Infection of the sinus cavities, edema, and excessive mucus production can result from this,” she explains.
“Additionally, being exposed to allergens can lead to more frequent coughing and clearing of the throat. It is crucial to work with your primary care provider to identify the medications that are effective for you.”
While these three practices may not seem related, they are a holistic approach to how voice actors should be viewing their vocal health. Your entire body, what you ingest and your environment are the three major factors in keeping your voice in the condition you need it to be to perform at your peak.
Want to learn more about vocal health? Read this article from Voices on how to maintain a healthy voice.