What is Vocal Massage and when should I get one?
Has your voice not been firing well since you had that last cough? Can you feel tension in your voice or pain in your neck and shoulders? Do you struggle with tightness in your tongue and jaw which is affecting your speech or singing?
Have you thought of getting a Vocal massage?
Singing and speaking well requires a freedom and balance in the muscles around the larynx and jaw and a buoyant, free posture for the breath. Vocal massage is designed to give you a ‘reset’ of these muscles to help you maintain (or re-establish) healthy voice production.
When should I get a Vocal Massage?
After a respiratory illness
Vocal massage is particularly helpful after a respiratory illness if you have had a cough. It can help relax the muscles which are involved in breathing such as the sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles. Gentle mobilization of the intercostal muscles, diaphragm attachment points and the ribcage can also help free the breathing mechanism.
To counter the physical demands of your job
If you work in a profession that is demanding physically you may find vocal massage helps you with pain and tension especially around the neck, head and shoulders. Stage work for example places major demands on a singer’s body. Raked stages, very heavy or tight costumes, wigs, hats and high heels can all throw the alignment of the posture out by tensing and straining muscles in the body. It can also mean the singer adjusts the position of their pelvis and neck. These adjustments may affect the singer’s capability for full breath capacity and best breath management.
As a preventative therapy to help manage heavy vocal load
Even with the best technique there is a certain level of vocal load that a healthy voice can handle. Some occupations like teaching, professional singing, personal training, and other client centred jobs (call centres for example) may put too great a vocal load on your voice each day. Vocal massage may help you keep your voice fresh and healthy by helping the larynx and jaw muscles stay free and relaxed. Massage has also been proven scientifically to help boost the immune system, release endorphins, reduce fatigue, lower blood pressure and support the lymph system. It can be an aid to get you through a heavy workload and help keep your voice healthy.
What happens in a Vocal Massage?
A Vocal Massage targets muscles involved in vocal production through remedial massage, gentle myofascial work, and trigger point therapy. The first component of a Vocal Massage is postural assessment and palpation of the area around your neck and jaw to establish if restrictions in the muscles may be affecting your larynx and breath. Your larynx and hyoid bone are gentle moved to assess if they are in a free, neutral position, range of motion of your jaw will be measured and the therapist will check if your ribs and diaphragm are mobile and your posture is balanced.
A treatment plan is then developed specific to your needs which may include alleviating tension around the front of the neck and jaw, mobilising the hyoid bone and larynx and addressing postural issues affecting the freedom of your breath.
Personally I use my knowledge both as a massage therapist trained in advanced techniques for the neck, jaw and larynx and as an opera singer and vocal teacher. I am not a specialist in vocal disorders- I regularly refer clients to ENTs and Speech Pathologists when they have difficulties beyond my scope of practice. Often clients are also referred back to me particularly when a diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia has been made and I am brought in as a complementary therapist as part of the client’s treatment plan.
Why don’t you book a Vocal Massage with me today and see how it can help your voice?