Composed of muscle tissue, vocal cords are the two small elastic bands within the larynx. When air is exhaled through the trachea, it passes through the closed vocal cords, causing them to vibrate and produce noise.
When you are not speaking, the vocal cords remain open and allow you to breathe. Occasionally, the small elastic bands become damaged, which impacts breathing, speaking, eating and coughing, according to Cleveland Clinic. Voice exercises to strengthen vocal cords aim to help you regain control of your vocal cords and throat.
Vocal Cord Strengthening Exercises
If the damage to your vocal cords has caused them to become weak, strengthening exercises may help your condition. Pronouncing words and phrases that begin with a vowel tend to be the best exercises for activating the vocal cords. The Aurora Health Care website recommends repeating the phrase "Ah-Ah-Ah" with a hard onset 10 times at least three times per day. Throughout the day, challenge yourself to repeat words that begin with vowels, such as "upstairs, elephant, ignore, accident and owl." As you say the words, try to emphasize the first sound.
Add the Push/Pull Technique
If you are having trouble clearly enunciating the words or phrases used in the strengthening exercises, consider combining them with the push-pull technique. Pushing or pulling up against seat of a chair while simultaneously repeating the "Ah-Ah-Ah" phrase to make the exercise more effective. The push/pull movements are thought to encourage closing of the vocal cords, which helps in pronunciation.
Clear Your Throat
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recommends a "supraglottic swallow maneuver," which can help clear the throat in preparation of speech.
- Turn your head toward the side of the damaged vocal cords. If vocal cords on both sides are damaged, simply leave the head pointing forward.
- Hold your breath tightly while swallowing.
- Then, cough immediately after swallowing before exhaling.
The throat is cleared during the swallowing phase, while the coughing phase helps bring the vocal cords closer together.
Relax the Throat
Learning how to relax the throat can help you maintain control of your breathing and damaged vocal cords.
- Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- lace your hand on your abdomen as you inhale slowly through the nose and exhale slowly through pursed lips.
- Watch your hand as it moves up and down with each breath.
- Alter the speed of your inhalations and exhalations, keeping the throat relaxed with each breath.
As you become familiar with the exercise, practice breathing in upright, squatting, leaning forward and bent over positions.