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Voice Aerobics: Exercises for Your Voice

  Source: This article was contributed by Gwyneth Lee, Speech Therapist, Singapore General Hospital.  

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is a voice disorder characterised by strain and effort when talking. MTD happens when the muscles in your neck are tense while you use your voice. It may be caused by irritants such as an upper respiratory infection, acid reflux (heartburn), excessive demands placed on your voice or stressful life events.

Often, more than one of these factors may contribute to MTD. People who are required to use their voices over prolonged periods commonly experience varying degrees of MTD.

People who develop too much tension in their neck and voice box may experience the following symptoms: 

  • A feeling of the voice tiring easily
  • Effortful talking in noisy environments
  • Deterioration of voice quality with prolonged use (e.g. the voice may become hoarse, raspy)
  • Irritation in the throat (pain, tickling sensation, etc.)
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Difficulty getting their voice started for the day
  • Need to catch their breath

It is important to eliminate any form of muscle tension in the voice box, as extensive use of the voice in a tense posture can cause damage to the vocal cords. Talking should not be effortful, but instead should feel free and easy.

Exercises to warm up the voice

Below are some voices exercises that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of MTD.  Warming up your voice, especially if you have a high vocal demand, is important and these voice exercises aim to reduce the strain and effort felt when talking.  

Let us demonstrate these voice warm-ups to you.



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1) Tongue stretch


2) Tongue Massage

3) Trills

If you have persistent discomfort in the throat when talking, or are experiencing changes in voice quality that do not improve after two weeks, please consult an otolaryngologist or a speech therapist.

Ref. T12