Charles Ward is a highly regarded Laryngeal Manual Therapist who has worked with top artists – including TAKE THAT.
Ever wondered why athletes (both professional and amateur) have regular soft tissue work during training and competition? It’s not only for rehabilitation, but more often-than-not, for prevention and maintenance purposes.
They are constantly striving to reduce the effects of fatigue and to avoid injury. Ultimately, they want to stay in top physical form to execute their chosen sport to the highest level, and to their own full potential.
What’s that got to do with singing I hear you ask?
Well…singers, (in my opinion) should consider themselves as athletes too; ‘Vocal Athletes’.
Singers should look after their voices in the same way athletes look after their bodies. The only difference being, the muscle groups used to execute a particular action.
However, the amount and intensity to which the muscles are used, is probably relative in comparison.
As singers, we often unintentionally take our ability to sing for granted.
We don’t always fully appreciate what it takes to produce sound, or the stresses it places on larynx and supporting muscles – especially during periods of regular rehearsals, performances, or recording sessions.
Added to that we also have the impact of day-to-day living, stress, anxiety and the dreaded ‘talking’. All of these have a varying effect on the larynx and our ability to produce sound.
So, where does Laryngeal Manual Therapy (LMT) fit in?
LMT is not just used for people experiencing vocal crisis, or conditions such as, Globus or Muscle Tension Dysphonia.
LMT is also a very effective maintenance tool, helping to keep the larynx and its supporting muscles in good shape, to avoid over-use injuries, and manage some of the symptoms associated with fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
What does LMT involve?
LMT is a very ‘hands-on’ therapy, involving the application of laryngeal and soft tissue manipulation to the muscles of the larynx, the jaw, neck, and other muscles associated with producing sound, such as the diaphragm.
In a nutshell LMT can help to:
- Restore normal laryngeal function, reducing compensatory behaviours and the risk of vocal injury
- Encourage a more neutral jaw position to improve articulation, pronunciation, tone and resonance
- Stimulate the diaphragm to promote more effective breath support and control
- Relax the muscles (directly and indirectly) associated with voice production
- Reduce the effects of vocal fatigue
Many of the professional singers I treat are feeling the benefits of a regular ‘vocal service’.
More label and tour managers are also seeing and understanding the importance of keeping their artists in better vocal shape, so that the risk of cancelled gigs and vocally-exhausted singers is reduced and managed.
The same applies to anyone using their voice in a professional or amateur capacity.
For many of you, your voice and singing is your job as well as your passion, so look after it and it will serve you well.
LMT is not going to improve poor technique or replace the need to exercise and develop your voice. However, LMT helps singers become aware of tension and the need for healthy technique.
Charles Ward is a Laryngeal Manual Therapist who has worked with a number of high profile artists during their UK Arena Tours. Charles works with professional and amateur voice users, as well as those suffering with vocal issues all across the UK. Charles is also a very passionate and active singer himself, with industry experience and vocal coaching from some of the UK’s most well regarded.