Voice Care for Coaches

Coaches rely heavily on their voice to service clients.If you also give teleclasses or workshops, voicemaintenance needs to be one of their top self-carepriorities. This information also applies to singers,speakers, or sales professionals.

During flu and cold season, vocal cords become highlysensitized and need as much care as a valuableinstrument. Think of your voice, and we should, as anexpensive, rare violin. If you were going to play theviolin the next day -- same relation as having aspeaking engagement or a full day of coaching -- youwouldn't expose that violin to a night in a smokefilled room, lay cigars or pour alcohol all over it andexpect it not to suffer from the abuse the next day.

Antibiotics don't help viral infections or laryngitis-- a common result from a viral infection caused from acold or flu. Recently, I suffered got the flu andsuffered from a severe case of laryngitis. I had tocancel a teleclass, lose a week of work, and almost apaid speaking engagement. The more I self-treatedthrough media knowledge or recommendations, the worsethe laryngitis got.

It took over 20 days before I improved and then twoweeks later, it returned. After great frustration, Ifinally visited my ear, nose, and throat specialist,only to learn that everything I was trying was actuallycontributing the extended suffering. Let me pass alongsome of my learning so you don't need to go throughthis. Like me, some of it will surprise you.

Food and Beverages

Warm or hot beverages work best. Cold beverages withice produces the voice center to spasm generatingcoughing that results in laryngitis. Stick to drinkingroom temperature water.

Black Currant Pastilles, which are glycerin-containinglozenges for adults, keeps the throat moist. Pastillesare perfect to take before, during, and after flying ortraveling from one temperature extreme to another, sayNew York to Florida in winter. It is good to havethese on hand since they are difficult to find. Manyprofessional singers use Black Currant Pastilles 24hours before their performance.

Avoid anything with mint or menthol.

Throat Coat® Tea, designed specifically for voiceprofessionals, is rated higher than Pastilles. The teacontains licorice root, which is widely used to enhancethroat and upper respiratory tract health. Anybeverage that affects your stomachs acid level, likecaffeine, will also affect your vocal cords. Caffeineis a mild diuretic and dries the throat and vocalcords. Coffee, including decaf, due to its naturaloils causes acidic results that cause vocal damage.This includes chocolate. If you suffer from acidreflux disease, you need to take extra care of yourvoice since it cause permanent damage. Sodas alsocause acid reflux and damages vocal cords.

With a cold or flu, we usually drink orange juice.This acidic beverage actually lengthens laryngitis. Sodoes the amount of lemon you use in water. A tiny bitof lemon in warm water with a small amount of honey isa great elixir that actually smoothes the vocal cords.

Dairy increases throat mucus for some people. If afteryou drink milk, you feel even a little mucus in yourthroat, you probably have a very mild milk allergy.This will affect your vocal health and can lengthlaryngitis. Nuts have the same allergy affect.

Common Causes of Voice Strain

It's common knowledge that shouting, screaming, andexcessive talking strains voice cords. But, did youknow that whispering, coughing, loud sneezing, crying,laughing, and throat clearing could do the same damage?

Emotional or environmental stress also causes voicestrain. Especially major changes like separation/divorce, new job, kids going off to college, grieving,not enough sleep, moving, and even hormonal changes inadolescents or maturing adults. If you add any ofthese with the need for a quality voice, you will needto take extra care in order not to bruise or damageyour throat center or vocal cords.

Voice Maintenance

When experiencing laryngitis, limit unnecessarytalking, and pause frequently to swallow and remoistenyour throat, even during speaking engagements.Relaxation techniques, like yoga always help, yetconscious aware of your posture and breathing duringspeaking can save or further bruise voice projectionespecially if your voice is weak from a cold.

One of my favorite exercises that I do every morning orwhile driving to a speaking engagement is a vowelreview. Stretch your neck comfortable upwards andrecite the vowels -- a, e, i, o, u. Let your voweltrail off after each one especially the "u." Ifexperiencing laryngitis avoid whispering. Whisperingactually stresses vocal cords reducing recoverysignificantly. If you smoke or visit smoke-filledrooms, triple your maintenance plan, smoke is verydamaging.

If you lose your voice, you will require additionalrest time over a 4-7 day period. This means limitingyour voice to 15 minutes a day. Looking on the brightside, listening skills will definitely improve. Keepphone calls brief; avoid all non-speech voice use,including throat clearing, coughing, and sneezing orany odd sound effects. Snoring also doubles strain.

Over-the-Counter

Even though they give brief relief, throat sprays andmedicated lozenges dry the throat and extend recovery.If used for an emergency, you must follow with extremecare.

Herbs can also cause side effects. You will want todiscuss their use with your doctor or herbpractitioner. Herbs like barberry reduce inflammationand infection caused from respiratory infections, butcan also cause an allergic reaction especially ifalready using another remedy. Herbs like eucalyptus,German chamomile, goldenrod, goldenseal, licorice,marshmallow, peppermint, saw palmetto, or slippery elmare remedies for vocal cord inflections. Adding garlicand ginger to your foods also reduce cold symptomsincluding sore throat and don't need professionaladvice.

Support Team

If your voice is vital to your income, you will want tohave an ear, nose, and throat physician familiar withyour medical history and working with singers. With anongoing relationship, it's easier for them to provideadvice when out of the area.

Last year, while experiencing a mild case oflaryngitis, I saw my doctor before I left for aspeaking engagement but I didn't know to mentioned Iwas traveling to a high elevation. By the time Ichecked in at the hotel, I was in bad shape. Anemergency call and I was armed with new instructions.The next morning I was fine. Did you know that mosttaxi companies will pick up and deliver called-inprescriptions usually at the same rate as a cab ride?

(c) Copyright 2005, Catherine Franz. All rightsreserved.

Catherine Franz, a eight-year Certified ProfessionalCoach, Graduate of Coach University, MasteryUniversity, editor of three ezines, columnist, authorof thousands of articles website:http://www.abundancecenter.comblog: http://abundance.blogs.com

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