Damaging Your Vocal Cords

Hey guys, Jay Lemon here. TotalVocalMethod.com You know, in my 40 years of teaching, I have run across several students and worked with several students who have damaged or injured their vocal cords. And a lot of people have questions about that. How do I damage them? How do I keep from damaging them? And if I do, what do I do next? So first, I’ll just tell you the biggest culprit in most people that get hurt singing is too much air. That’s the big one.

It’s just like yelling at a football game. If yell and yell and yell, you’re gonna hurt yourself. That is the biggest problem most singers have is too much air. Okay, second, what do you do if you’re damaged or you’re injured? What do you do? Well, I’ve worked with a lot of students, like I said. First thing I do before they work with me, as I have them get absolute approval from their ENT or their primary care physician to make sure that they are ready to use their voice again.

The problem with vocal nodules and injuries that are similar to that is that they’re caused by imbalanced use of air and muscle, mostly when the cords come together, they’re just like the rest of your body. You know, when you dig a ditch and you build callouses on your hand and they may be pop open and bleed. Friction.

Your body builds tissue to protect itself. And all the vocal cords are doing when you get a nodule is that if there really whacking together real hard in one place, they build a little tissue. That’s what a nodule is. They’re trying to protect themselves, and that’s all it is.

So the way that happens is too much, right? Too much air, too much muscle, too much whatever. The way we get it off is the same way we get calluses off. We gently, gently rub gently, gently rehab it off. If you have soft nodules as a singer, you would come in with me for approval with your ENT.

We do a lot of bubbles. We do a lot of… a lot of Eehh. Lot of short formant stuff.

Very, very low intensity and lots and lots of water. You would stay so hydrated. No alcohol, no tobacco, nothing that is diuretic or takes moisture out of your tissue. Water, water, water, water, water and gentle, gentle, gentle, gentle, gentle. Ah, lot of people may think if I’m injured,

I shouldn’t use my voice. That may be true for a little while. That may be the case as your recovery, maybe from the surgical part of it, if there’s a surgery or some of the other things that happened right after the injury, but as soon as possible, just like any other part of your body. When you injure it, you’re back on your trying to get that system to work again.

What’s really critical about getting that injury better is you’ve got to retrain yourself so you do not reinjure yourself.

It’s very critical that you get the right sense of balance in your voice. Air to muscle ratio, the right kind of vowel shapes that let you maintain yourself and self regulate and not reinjure yourself.

One of the main things I want you to make sure you do is get seen by ear, nose and throat doctor.

Make sure they get a look at the vocal cord, and they know what the exact status of it is. That makes sure that you know what the injury is and do whatever they tell you to do.

It’s going to be probably a combination, a vocal hygiene with a speech therapist and singing therapy with a guy like me,

if you’re a singer. Make sure you do everything you’re prescribed to do. Okay, speech therapy is extraordinarily important, especially if you get an injury as a speaker. And it’s weird because you know, people that do speeches, people that preach, people that use their voice all the time. Even people, by the way, who don’t sing or don’t preach, end up hurting themselves because they’re a waitress or a waiter and they work at a loud restaurant or a loud establishment.

They spend their time doing their job like this, “can I get that with fries?” And they’re always at this level in their voice.

They don’t realize it. But they’re shredding themselves all the time, wind up injured. It happens all the time.

Too much air, too much muscle. Doesn’t matter if you’re singing or not. Those things hurt your voice and recovery is just a matter of recovering anything else.

If you hurt your arm, get your shoulder torqued out for a while, you may have to hang it in a sling, and then after a while you have to start working it. Same thing with your voice. Maybe vocal rest will be the first thing ordered.

Do what they tell you. Rest your voice. Then you start the rehab, either with a speech therapist, singing therapist.

Whatever it is that your doctor is allowing and prescribing you to do, that’s what you do. Follow that course and stay advised and stay focused.

You’ll recover your voice. I’m Jay Lemon with Total Vocal Method. Thanks for watching.