Neck tension and singing
We have all experienced neck pain or stiffness from time to time, but what can this do to our voice? Generally neck pain or stiffness will make it difficult to move our neck due to restriction in movement due to stiffness or pain causing apprehension and restriction. The most common areas that people will describe pain or stiffness would be in the back of the neck either directly below the skull in the sub-occipital area or between the neck and shoulder in the upper traps. But how can this affect my voice?
The voice box or larynx is supported by 2 groups of muscles know as the infrahyoids and suprahyoids.
These group of muscles attach onto the hyoid bone (a floating bone structure above the larynx), this is connected to the larynx via the Thyrohyoid membrane and ligaments.
The muscles in the posterior part of the neck such as the sub occipital group or the upper traps are responsible for head positioning and movement of the neck. If there is any physical restriction to these muscles which may result in restricted movement it will affect our ability to position our head. if for example we are feeling pain in the area of the sub occipitals it can be difficult to bring the head into a neutral position (looking straight ahead). This means that our chin will be pointing down either slightly or a lot. If for example this position is adopted while singing the supra and infra hyoids will be but into a shorter position which will affect how they are able to control the movement of the larynx. This may result in you having to work harder to control the, sound and complete phrases. If we start to use muscles in a way that fatigues them more quickly on a consistent basis, this can start to create continuous or underlying tension in the muscles of the voice. This can lead to increased muscle tension, which may cause changes to the voice or dysphonia.
For anyone who uses their voice a lot through the day whether it is singing, or speaking for the likes of teachers, barristers, sales people it is really important to think of reducing neck tension to allow an effective posture to be used when vocalising, take a look at this videos to mobilise and stretch you neck and help achieve an effective and efficient singing or speaking posture.