Vocal Health

Why Rest Is Sometimes The Best Medicine

Ever find that your voice just isn’t up for the challenge? Are you exhausted vocally or unable to speak without pain?

As a person who uses their voice every day as part of their profession or occupation, it’s easy to get run down and suffer from periodic or sporadic vocal inconveniences such as laryngitis, bronchitis and the like.
What happens when your voice is not able to emulate what’s on your demo because of a temporary health issue?
Many voice actors and singers face that reality every now and then. Find out how resting your voice may be the ticket to getting back to your regular self.

Vocal Rest

When I was a student at university in the music faculty, vocal rest was second to none for protecting your voice and or encouraging healing for a voice in peril. If you were sick, you simply didn’t sing and knew not to push it. This notion also extends to any stressful vocal behaviours such as yelling, coughing hard, forceful throat clearing, crying, talking on the phone, or screaming.

Sometimes, vocal rest can mean not uttering a word.
Instead of taxing the vocal apparatus even further or irritating the vocal folds unnecessarily, it is advised to take two and wait out an illness before trying to replicate what you are able to do when you’re healthy.

The same goes for voice actors and professionals who rely upon their voice to make a living. There is something to be said for prudence, and when it comes to your health, you can’t be too careful… don’t be afraid to go to your doctor to get checked out if you are concerned.

Resting The Voice is Also Good For Other Recovery Schedules

Vocal rest is not just prescribed for those with the common cold or overuse of the voice, but also as part of other recovery programs such as heart surgery, for instance.
Just recently, a young Canadian soprano and fan favourite, Measha Brueggergosman, was hospitalized for emergency heart surgery after suffering a tear in her aorta. The procedure went well and she is now taking time off to recover. Part of her getting healthy regime includes not singing for one month, presumably so as not to place strain on her heart.

When you speak or sing, more than just your vocal apparatus is involved. You’ve got all sorts of muscles working together in your chest, particularly breathing mechanisms and diaphragmatic support, that when used during a time of recovery, can hinder the process greatly, even possibly cause undue painful.

Have You Ever Needed Time for Vocal Rest?

I’m interested to learn if you make it a regular practice to take vocal rest when necessary and what you do to pass the time productively while not voicing.
Looking forward to hearing your stories,

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  • Rick Marcil
    June 29, 2009, 4:32 pm

    Great article!

  • Alex Rain
    June 29, 2009, 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the article… It can be hard to take the time off when you are active… and nearly impossible when you have two kids getting into everything. I think we could also benefit from doing proper warmups every day… cutting back on dairy products that result in phlegm that needs clearing, etc…

  • Priscilla Hamilton
    June 30, 2009, 9:32 pm

    Hello Stephanie,
    Your message about vocal rest is an important one, and I imagine that those who have not studied voice may not be aware of how critical this is to getting a voice back to peak performance. I’d just like to add that vocal rest also includes not even whispering. Actually, whispering can be even more of a strain on the vocal chords than speaking.
    Best Regards,

  • Doug de Nance
    July 1, 2009, 6:58 pm

    Monday is typically my day of vocal rest. During the week I do voice over work and auditions. But about 40 weekends a year, I also announce monster truck shows live in dusty, fume-filled venues. I don’t know how my voice has held up for over 30 years. Perhaps all those years of stage acting as a kid helped build strength in my voice. I do vocal exercises each day as well, so I’m sure that helps keep my voice going strong. But there’s no doubt that one day without speaking is an important part of the process.

  • Tam
    February 18, 2010, 12:57 pm

    I like to really belt out blues songs. And up until the cold I had this Christmas, had no problem doing it. Now I start coughing and lose my voice mid song, if I put any umph into it.
    Planning to make sure I warm up properly, breath correctly, keep my body hydrated and throat lubricated, pre performance.
    I rest by quietly humming or just mouthing words while I practice guitar, mandolin and lap dulcimer.

  • carol
    June 9, 2010, 9:18 am

    I am on voice rest now, however only from recording I am still teaching

  • Raees
    May 8, 2012, 6:24 am

    After doing indirect laryngoscopy my doctor told me that my vocal cord muscles have became weak and advised me vocal rest initialy for two weeks and then again for three weeks.I am a teacher by proffesion and hence very much worried.when i speak it causes irritation in my throat and then pain.don’t know when wil i recover completely and able to teach..

  • Tariq
    May 22, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I used to have a normal voice…but then one ordinary day, my singing voice magically became beautiful and perfect effortless. But then I got sick, and constantly sang WHILE sick(I still sounded pretty good with the cold), but then a few days AFTER I was sick, my voice didn’t sound as good(it wasn’t as flexible, rich, or full as before I got sick), and I was so mad…now I practice EVERY day and its SLOWLY getting better…it’s still not as flexible though… >:(