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3 Myths That Put Your Voice At Risk

Written by: Katarina Hornakova, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Information about vocal health is plentiful and it comes from various sources, such as the internet, news, books, or your friends. The problem is that some advice on how to keep your voice healthy may not be based on facts, but rather on old wives’ tales and personal experiences, which can put your voice at risk.

In the past 2 years, there has been a rise in the number of vocal issues connected to changes in how we communicate. I keep hearing people tell me more than ever before: “I lose my voice by the end of the day every single day.” Many more people talk on Zoom or similar platforms for work or pleasure. Boundaries between work and social life have blurred and we find ourselves talking more and differently. We wear masks and use social distancing in everyday communication, which can lead to hoarseness, strained throat, tired voice or other vocal issues.


There are many ways to fix these problems but myths and misconceptions about voice and vocal health are making it confusing. Let’s unpack some of these myths.


Myth no 1. Your voice is a small box inside your throat


When I ask people where their voice is, they either point to their mouth or their throat. They are not wrong but your voice is much more than a little box inside your neck. Your voice is not just two tiny bands of muscles that vibrate when you blow air through them. Your voice is your whole body, starting from your toes going up to the top of your head.


Everything in our bodies is interconnected. You can probably imagine that the position of your head or shoulders will affect how you sound. But can you believe that even the soles of your feet can influence the function of your voice? Just try it. Stand up and start counting out loud while shifting the body weight from the balls of your feet to the heels, from right to left and back. Notice how your voice changes as you transfer your body weight. Isn’t that fascinating?


And we could examine the effect of every body part on your voice: your knees, pelvis, abdomen, chest, neck, shoulders, head. They are all connected.


Why would you care to know this? Many people with voice problems focus on the little box inside their throat. They overlook the importance of their whole body and how different body parts impact the vocal function. So, next time your voice feels funky, check in with your body, so that the two tiny bands in your voice box don’t have to over-work to compensate for the rest of the body.


Myth no 2. Recurrent voice problems will eventually go away


When your voice gets tired after you talk on Zoom, you take a rest, you drink plenty of water and maybe you take some pills to numb the sore throat. When your voice gets tired again, you repeat the process. It worked the first time, it will work again.


But when your voice gets tired over and over again, vocal rest, water and pills are not the way to go. This “traditional” solution may actually be harmful and a different course of action is needed. The very first step is to have your voice properly evaluated. And if you are thinking that a tired voice does not deserve that much attention, think again. When you sprain your ankle or hurt your back, you rush to see a doctor. Your voice deserves the same care.


It is recommended that you have your voice assessed by a voice specialist if you observe changes in voice quality for more than 2 weeks without the presence of acute infection, such as common cold or flu. Recurrent vocal fatigue, hoarseness or voice strain are definitely good reasons to speak to your doctor and ask for an ENT referral (more specifically for a visit to a laryngologist who can assess your voice).


Myth no 3. Drinking water is the solution to any vocal issue


When I meet with people who experience vocal problems, I ask them what they’ve tried to remedy their issues. The answer is always “I drink a lot of water,” which is immediately followed by “but my voice still gets sore”. Proper hydration is the absolute minimum to keep your voice healthy but it is not a magic cure for all voice problems.


It is important to keep your voice (and body) hydrated throughout the day but there are more steps that could or should be done to rehabilitate a tired or sore voice and prevent further vocal damage. If you believe that resting your voice is the answer, you may be surprised to know that absolute vocal rest is not recommended either. The next step after consulting a voice specialist is doing regular mind, body and voice exercises to improve vocal function and technique. That is the only solution to recurrent vocal issues.


In summary, if you are experiencing vocal fatigue, repeated hoarseness or any other changes in the feeling of your voice, don’t wait. Find help and start changing how you use your voice.


Follow Katarina on her Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and visit her website for more info.

 

Katarina Hornakova, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Katarina Hornakova is a licensed speech-language pathologist, vocal health coach and educator with 20+ years of experience working with diverse groups of people from all corners of the world, including speakers, singers, musicians, teachers, presenters, voice over actors, entrepreneurs, yoga instructors, health educators, and others. She has published several books and articles on speech, language and voice disorders. Katarina is most passionate about helping people who experience vocal tension, strain or even pain when speaking, find more vocal ease and confidence to share their message with the people around them. Her mission is to give voice to those who have lost it. She continues to develop her deep fascination with the human voice through the Estill Voice System model, which formed her belief that “every voice is beautiful”. Katarina has helped hundreds of people discover their true vocal potential. She is a curious life-long learner herself who loves to meet new people, cook, and travel.

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