by Cari Cole
Throat tension and vocal stress are common complaints. A lot of people suffer from the end-of-the-day vocal fatigue that comes from accumulated tension — from talking (on the phone) and/or using the voice incorrectly. Also keep in mind that most voice problems come from being dehydrated, a lack of sleep and overusing your speaking or singing voice without the correct placement or technique.
Your vocal cords lie within the “Adams Apple” in the front of your throat. When there is tension in this area there is a sensation of tightness, heaviness and even soreness in this area. When you speak or sing you’ll find that the “Adams Apple” usually moves upward and closes the throat. The result is a voice with a thin tight sound or an uncontrollably breathy sound, either lead to a sore throat and/or voice problems.
Here’s a way to relieve some of this tension:
Exercise to Release Throat Tension
- Put your finger across your throat at the top of your “Adams Apple” and swallow.
- Notice the upward motion of the “Adams Apple”.
- Now keeping your finger at the top of your “Adams Apple” relax and begin a yawn. ( It is the sensation that occurs at the beginning of a yawn that releases tension in the throat. The full yawn brings tension).
- Notice the downward motion of the “Adams Apple.”
- This motion opens the throat and releases tension.
- Yawn again (not a full yawn) at the back of your throat. Repeat a few times letting the throat muscles slip downward as you yawn.
- Then repeat the yawn and exhale by sighing “ah” at a comfortable high note in your range that floats downward – sounding like a sigh.
- Practice releasing tension in the throat with a yawn/sigh motion 5 times to release throat tension.
There are many other ways to decrease tension in the throat including getting a massage that focuses on your neck and throat muscles, doing yoga to decrease all over tension, and daily neck and shoulder stretches. Keep in mind also that tension in the voice can result from stress. The inability to “speak up” for what you want/need. The throat is our center of expression and psychological tension can result in physical constriction and tension in this area. Talk therapy, or talking things out to a trusted friend or therapist are helpful. Also help from a physical therapist, acupuncturist can alleviate tension in these areas. I also recommend energy work in the chakras for those of you who are open to that kind of thing.
For vocal exercises that decrease tension in your voice:
We recommend our Singers Gift Warmups which are designed to warm you up while decreasing tension in your throat. Click here to find out more.
If you are having vocal problems or are recovering from vocal issues, we recommend you check out our Vocal Rescue Kit which comes with vocal therapy, speaking exercises and cooldown exercises to reduce fatigue and inflammation that comes from overusing your voice.