Prevent Vocal Tension

Prevent Voice Tension

In this video, Voice Physio, Selina, demonstrates how she prevents vocal tension by using the median nerve tension test to monitor neck tension and addressing it before neck tension makes her voice tight.

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’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

B. Phty
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This is me testing the mobility of my median nerve to check for tension in my neck so I can deal with it before neck tension starts to affect my voice. Want to learn? Keep watching.

In my previous video I talked about why nerves are awesome for monitoring neck tensions for singers so make sure you watch that one too.

The first thing you need to know is when NOT to test the nerves because nerves are very sensitive, if your nerves are already sensitised, testing them can provoke them further bringing on pain or worsening any existing symptoms. No, thank you.

We do NOT test nerves when there is:

  • a new pain or a new injury;
  • not when there is severe pain or any nervy symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness, tingling;
  • not if symptoms are irritable;
  • not if there is hypersensitivity,
  • not if there is a loss of or altered sensation.

If you have any of these or if you have any doubts, you should see your own physio and get personalised healthcare.

Here are the steps for the first half of the median nerve test.

Step one: hold shoulder down with the opposite hand.

Step two: hold up an imaginary plate by your side.

Step three: keeping a slight downward pressure on the shoulder, slowly extend the elbow keeping the imaginary plate up and see how straight the elbow can get before the onset of either a slight tingling, a slight deep ache, or a slight stretch along the arm.

Repeat this on the other side and notice any differences between sides.

In the second half of the test the length and mobility of the median nerve is challenged further by adding neck side flexion.

With neck side flexion towards the arm there should be a slight decrease in sensation.

Conversely, there should be a slight increase in sensation with neck flexion away from the arm.

Both sides should be practically the same with similar range of movement and sensation.

This is what helps us monitor neck tension.

If instead of just a slight increase in sensation it suddenly cranks up as the arm is extended or the neck flexed away, then there is likely undue tension in the neck.

Or there might be a stronger sensation or much less range of movement one day compared to your usual, then that could indicate undue neck tension as well.

Also, if one side doesn’t feel like it usually does then that side could be holding undue tension.

For hypermobile humans, there may not be any sensation even with the elbow fully extended and neck flex well away, that is okay.

What’s normal for a hypermobile body is not what textbook would call normative values.

This information is still useful because the day there is sensation or much less range of movement, you would know that is not your normal.

With this simple test we could reflect and see if we can identify where undue tension could be coming from and do something about it.

Some common reasons for tension to accumulate is: increased workload; not enough rest and recovery; stress, lack of sleep just to name a few.

If undue tension persists after a week of you actively trying to sort it out, then it is definitely time to go see your own physio to get some professional help.

If you’ve found this useful please let me know with a thumb up.

I’m Selina, a physio and a singer. I help singers build strong bodies to enhance their vocal efficiency and performance, if that is your vibe, please subscribe.

This is a playlist I’ve made just for singers so make sure you check it out.

‘Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement.™

Selina Asirus Tannenberg. Voice Physio


Selina Tannenberg is a Meanjin (Brisbane)-based Physiotherapist, Singer, Composer. She believes a Strong, Limber and Fit body is an under-utilised key to enhancing Vocal Efficiency and Performance so has created Voice Physio to help Singers build Strong Bodies for Singing! She publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus, and has a pet dragon named Sk’on.

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