Vocal Health Articles & Videos.

Vocal Load Management Part 1: Technique or Capacity?

Good Technique Does Not Exempt You from Voice Injuries

I came across this comment online recently: “If you have good vocal technique then you won’t have voice injuries”and I wholeheartedly disagree. Good technique is critical for voice health, that is for certain, but there is something equally as important as technique and that is vocal capacity.

Why is vocal capacity so important? Because no amount of technique can protect a voice user from the ill effects of overuse and overuse happens when your voice use exceeds your vocal capacity.

Why isn’t good technique enough? Because your voice is a living musculoskeletal instrument, which means it is subjected to the same biological convention like the rest of your body. If the most elite of sports people with the best technique can fall victim to overuse injury, so too voice users with the best technique fall victim to overuse injury.

No amount of technique can protect a voice user from the ill effects of overuse.
Selina @MoveMedics
Know Your Capacity

Your body is robust, strong, incredibly adaptable and can be trained to do amazing things, that being said, there is also a maximum to your capacity at any given point in time:

  • Even the strongest and technically great weightlifters have a limit to how much weight they can lift.
  • Even the strongest, fittest runners with the best technique will run out of legs after a finite distance.
  • Even the top tennis players with the best technique will fatigue and start missing their shots after hours of battle. Remember that epic match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open Final? It went on for 5 hours and 53 minutes! Both players were so spent they had to bring out chairs on court for them to sit on during the post-match interview!

Just as athletes have a limit to their athletic capacity, voice users also have a limit to their vocal capacity. You can and should strive to improve your overall capacity, which takes time and consistent effort. Right now as you are reading this today, you have a certain amount of capacity in you to carry out all your vocal tasks. If you push past your current capacity, and keep pushing and pushing, you are going to max out. Continued voice use beyond your capacity is how you set yourself up for overuse issues.

What is Overuse Injury?

What is overuse anyway? That’s when you use your body in a way that exceeds your current capacity and your tissue begins to change on a cellular level. If you continue to push beyond your current capacity, your tissue can eventually fail. A callous is a great example of tissue change in response to an unaccustomed load. Callouses are generally harmless and can even be helpful for grip, however, too much unaccustomed load can cause your callous to rip and bleed and puts you out of action! The tricky thing about overuse is that ill effects are not immediately noticeable and they are not always symptomatic. By the time you realise something is awry, the overuse has typically been going on for weeks.

Good Technique Does Not Equal to Good Capacity

Good technique is absolutely paramount in voice use. However, good technique does not equate to good vocal capacity. Even when you have great technique your voice will eventually fatigue with too much use. This is why learning how to manage your vocal load and how to safely improve your capacity are important for vocal health.

Technique is not just important for singers, it is essential for non-singing voice users, too! Tony Robbins has openly talked about how he damaged his voice from excessive speaking, doing multiple seminars a day for years on end. This is where there is tremendous value working with a good voice coach. Also, there should never ever be any discomfort or pain when you use your voice, should this be the case, you need to go see a speech language pathologist immediately.

Good vocal technique does not equate to good vocal capacity.
Selina @MoveMedics
Famous Voices with Overuse Voice Injuries

Here’re some examples of famous singers who have had overuse voice injuries. From the vocal coaches I’ve spoken with, some of them have good technique, some don’t. I’m not surprised this list includes those with good technique because technique is only one half of the equation.

  • Adele
  • Dame Julie Andrews
  • Björk
  • Whitney Houston
  • Sir Elton John
  • John Mayer
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Rod Stewart
  • Joss Stone
  • Justin Timberlake
Key Contributors to Your Vocal Load

So how does one manage vocal load? What does it encompass? Here’re some of what contributes to your vocal load:

  • Frequency of voice use – How often do you use your voice? How much voice rest do you get?
  • Duration of voice use – How long for? Continuous or intermittent?
  • Intensity/ Effort – How hard are you working? Rehearsal vs Performance.
  • Volume – Are you shouting? Are you voicing in a noisy environment e.g. a noisy classroom. Are you whispering?
  • Style/ Genre – Belting, distortion, character… etc.

Vocal load management is about striking a balance between demand and capacity, knowing how to progress your capacity safely, and smart planning. In the next post I’ll show you a nifty method to quantify and monitor vocal load.

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

x
Selina
B. Phty
This information is not medical advice. Got health concerns? Consult a real-life health professional.
Views are my own.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Selina Tannenberg

Selina Tannenberg

Selina is a health content creator-musician-physiotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. She is the director of MoveMedics and its subsidiaries, Voice Physio and Pole Physio. She is passionate about dispelling misinformation, simplifying healthcare, and empowering people with evidence-based knowledge for healthy and pain-free living. She enjoys running, attempting handstands, Formula 1 Racing, and publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus.

You May Also Like
Pole Physio Blog. Pole Injury Free After Lockdown

As we move onto Stage 2 restrictions in Oz and Pole Studios are set to reopen, here are 3 tips to help you Return to Pole Injury Free after almost 3 months off.

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. When Will Lockdown End

With the curve flattened, the question on everyone's mind is When Will Lockdown End? We explore the key elements in consideration and one possible approach.

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. Finding Your New Normal

Life as we know it has changed with the CoVID-19 Pandemic. Having a routine of your own choosing is reassuring during these challenging times. Here're 3 Tips to help you find your New Normal.

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. Is Physio Essential Service

Physio is deemed an essential service in Scott Morrison's latest announcement in business restrictions in the effort to slow the spread of CoVID-19. Is it really essential? Here're the 2 key questions.

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. CoVID19 Pandemic

At this point of the Corona Virus Pandemic, there is much uncertainty and confusion about what we should do in the community. This is a tricky and never-before-seen situation, and in times of uncertainty there may not be clear cut answers but we can always defer to common sense. Let’s take a look.

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. Selfie Wrist

What is Selfie Wrist?  There has been reports in the media that doctors are increasingly treating people with “Selfie Wrist”- wrist pain supposedly caused by excessive selfie taking. Is there really such a thing? This is not the first time a catchy name has been given to a pain condition, “Text Neck” did the rounds...

Read More
Pole Physio Blog. How To Handspring

The Foundation to Handspring Success The Handspring, aka Split Grip Ayesha, is a goal trick for a lot of pole dancers. Not only does the Handspring offer a great sense of achievement, it also opens the door to a lot of fun tricks, combos, and transitions. It is certainly one of those rite of passage tricks and...

Read More
Voice Physio Blog. Measure Vocal Load

Leveraging Sport Science Research Vocal load management is important for all voice users but it is such an abstract matter! How do you measure something so intangible and subjective? And even if you can quantify it, how do you actually use it to plan and manage your vocal load and to help prevent overuse issues?...

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. Does Movement Decline With Age

What Grade would you Give Your Movement? If you were to give your movement a grade right now, what grade would you give yourself? These are the things I want you to consider: Strength – Do you have the strength needed to do all the activities you want to do?  Mobility – Do you have the mobility needed to do...

Read More
Pole Physio Blog. Is Twisty Grip Evil

A Bad Reputation Twisty Grip is a very popular and useful grip in pole dancing. The Twisty Grip Handspring is also one of those rite of passage tricks that a lot of pole dancers dream to achieve. However, Twisty Grip has been blamed for causing many a shoulder injury. In fact, Twisty Grip has such...

Read More
Voice Physio Blog. Vocal Load Management. Technique Or Capacity

Good Technique Does Not Exempt You from Voice Injuries I came across this comment online recently: “If you have good vocal technique then you won’t have voice injuries”and I wholeheartedly disagree. Good technique is critical for voice health, that is for certain, but there is something equally as important as technique and that is vocal capacity....

Read More
MoveMedics Blog. Pain Does Not Mean Tissue Damage

The 4 Scenarios of Pain and Tissue Damage “Pain equals damage” is easily one of the biggest pain myths of all. No, pain does NOT equal damage. Let’s take a closer look. Where pain and tissue damage are concerned, there’re 4 possible scenarios. Scenario 1: No tissue damage. No pain. Scenario 2: Tissue damage. Pain Scenario 3: Tissue...

Read More

MoveMedics Digest

A Monthly Summary of All Our Articles in Your Inbox!