Dealing with vocal strain
April 21, 2022 9:38 PM   Subscribe

I overdid it with singing the other day (I think it was 8 hours more or less straight), do have some strain. What are good practices to help with recovery?

I know we have some singers here :) If you have personal advice or resources to share, I’d be grateful!

I’m assuming simply not talking is important, but what about when you do have to speak? I seem to remember that whispering is actually worse than voicing. If so, where should you sit your voice in your register (light and high, or lower)?
posted by cotton dress sock to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Overall hydration; water and non-caffeinated beverages (warm, avoiding extremes of hot or cold.) Avoid menthol or numbing sprays. Avoid alcohol. Breathe steam (like in the shower or from a humidifier.)

Whispering is generally bad -- avoid talking as much as possible but if absolutely necessary, a quiet tone in the middle of your natural register. Laughing can also strain the vocal folds.
posted by profreader at 3:35 AM on April 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pro voice user here: There is no magic remedy. Your vocal folds are swollen and irritated, you may have some edema, etc. The “treatment” is vocal rest—meaning no talking, singing, humming, whispering, or any other kind of vocalizing whatsoever. NSAIDs can help bring the swelling down. If things don’t improve you can get some prednisone. It’s important to stay hydrated and lubricated. Drink plenty of liquid and take lots of guaifenisin (make sure it’s not the kind with decongestant and/or cough suppressant). Take measures to ensure you don’t have any acid reflux, especially when sleeping. Avoid things that will be irritating such as alcohol, smoke, etc. And… wait for things to get better. It likely will take a lot longer than you think it will, but don’t be tempted to start singing again until you’re fully recovered.

Going forward, never sing or talk loud for eight hours again. Even the most strenuous of operatic roles—the ones that are notorious voice-wreckers for all but the strongest instruments—involve perhaps as much as 90 minutes of actual singing. Most are far less. The taxing role of Turandot, for example, is famously less than 20 minutes of singing. Limit strenuous singing to less than 60 minutes at a time, and give yourself rest after that (one old school practice was to abstain from any vocalizing for a full day after performing in a taxing role). There have been some freaks of nature with the remarkable healing factor of Brett Favre’s knees in their vocal folds—Mario del Monaco, for example—but you’re not one of those people.
posted by slkinsey at 4:46 AM on April 22, 2022 [10 favorites]

slkinsey covered it. Rest it just like an athlete who's strained a muscle or if you rolled your ankle. I have this happen from time to time and just straight vocal rest, no whispering, no shouting, no alcohol, cold mist vaporizer maybe; and it should self-correct.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:20 AM on April 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wear clothes with big pockets, and put a tiny notebook in them.

Get out your humidifier.

Really, really don't talk. Really. Be a pain.
posted by amtho at 7:26 AM on April 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

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