Vocal Massage

Vocal massage (also known as laryngeal therapy) is a unique massage modality that focuses on the muscles and joints used for speaking and singing. Vocal massage can benefit professional singers, voice actors, and theatre performers alike. It can also be beneficial for clients dealing with migraines, whiplash, TMJ disorder, muscle tension dysphonia, and other conditions affecting muscles in the neck, chest, jaw, face, and head. What makes vocal massage especially impactful is that this technique also targets the respiratory muscles, laryngeal muscles, diaphragm and tongue.

The Benefits of Vocal Massage

 

Relieve Muscle Tension and Joint Stiffness


People whose career requires them to sing or speak frequently are putting a tremendous amount of stress on their voice, which commonly leads to tense, achy muscles and stiff joints. If left unaddressed, this muscle tension and joint stiffness can worsen over time and lead to muscle tension dysphonia, which is a change in the feel or sound of the voice due to excessive muscle tension in and around the voice box. During a vocal massage, a specially trained registered massage therapist (RMT) will adapt massage techniques to target tightness in the jaw, neck, face, head, and chest.

Release the Diaphragm, Ribcage, and Thoracic Spine


While much of a vocal massage is performed on the body from the chest up, a trained massage therapist may offer to apply this technique to the diaphragm, ribcage, and thoracic spine. This method can be very beneficial for professional singers as releasing the diaphragm can improve the ability to use a “belt voice” and contribute to smoother transitions between vocal registers. Attending to a tight ribcage and thoracic spine can increase mobility in these areas, opening up the chest to improve breathing function and awareness.

Improve Posture, Overall Comfort, and Relaxation


Clients who do a lot of computer work, sit or stand for long periods of time, or work in compromised positions all day often come to Urban Massage and Wellness with issues that are a result of poor posture or working in an environment that has not been set up ergonomically. Vocal massage techniques can relieve tension in the jaw, neck, chest, and thoracic spine to calm the central nervous system, reduce stress, and open up the chest to make daily functions more comfortable. It can be very effective, not only for singers but for anyone whose career affects their posture or causes prolonged stress in the jaw and neck muscles.

 

What is a Vocal Massage?

 

How Vocal Massage Works

Vocal massage works by combining traditional massage techniques with myofascial release and manual lymphatic drainage to alleviate tension in the jaw, neck, face, head, and chest. An RMT trained in vocal massage can target the respiratory muscles, laryngeal muscles, and tongue, which are not typically attended to in a traditional massage. There are specific techniques used to relieve tension in and around the larynx, which aim to improve vocal fold movement and vibration. This is why vocal massage is so beneficial for singers and performers, but it is also a great option for folks suffering from whiplash, migraines, or TMJ disorders.

During the Appointment

Vocal massage involves paying attention to quite a few muscles that clients may not be used to their massage therapist touching during traditional massage appointments. Because people hold so much tension and emotion in their necks, it is not unusual for clients to experience an emotional release as the RMT addresses different points in that area of the body. During the appointment, the massage therapist will work mostly on muscles and joints from the chest up, but will often give clients the option of a diaphragm and ribcage release as well.

Experience Long-Lasting Relief

After an initial vocal massage appointment, clients should not feel any pain and should feel relaxed, at ease, and relieved. For some people, pain relief is almost immediate, but often clients will feel the full effects of a vocal massage within a few days following their treatment. Some muscles addressed during a vocal massage, like laryngeal muscles, are more elastic in nature than other parts of the body. This means it can take between three to five treatments for clients to notice a lasting improvement in their area of concern while the RMT gradually retrains the throat muscle to remain open and flexible.

What You Should Know Before You Book an Appointment

 

How to Prepare for a Vocal Massage Appointment

Vocal massage involves treating the face, neck, and chest, so we recommend removing any jewelry that may obstruct these areas. Your practitioner will have you undress to your comfort level with the understanding that most vocal massage treatments are only performed from the chest up, and any areas not being treated can be covered by a cozy blanket. It is helpful to keep the neck, shoulders, and chest area (above the collar bone) as exposed as you are comfortable with so the massage therapist can easily access the muscles and joints in those areas. Drink lots of water, remove face makeup beforehand if possible, and get ready to relax.

Safety and Risks

Vocal massage is a low-risk modality; however, we do recommend that clients with removable dental appliances take those out in advance to avoid discomfort as vocal massage does involve attending to the face, jaw, and cheeks. It is important to let the massage therapist know of any permanent dental appliances or braces that may affect the ability to massage the face.

Vocal Massage FAQs

 

Is vocal massage only for singers?

No! While vocal massage techniques were traditionally developed to benefit professional singers, they can very effective in addressing various concerns that involve the head, face, neck, throat, and chest. Many clients at Urban Massage and Wellness book vocal massage appointments to treat whiplash, migraines, and other conditions that lead to muscle tension and discomfort in those areas.

How often should I book a vocal massage?

Muscles in the throat are more elastic in nature than other parts of the body, so it can take a few sessions to experience a noticeable difference. For clients wanting fast and effective results, we recommend booking vocal massages in weekly increments, then spacing them out as needed for maintenance in the future. 5-6 weekly treatments is great start!

Do I have to remove my clothes for a vocal massage?

Like other massage services at Urban Massage and Wellness, clients are encouraged to undress to their comfort level. A vocal massage therapist will only perform massage techniques on the body from the chest up unless the client agrees to a diaphragm and ribcage release as part of their service.

Book a Vocal Massage in St. Albert

Did you know that Urban Massage and Wellness is one of the only massage clinics to offer vocal massage in St. Albert, Edmonton, and surrounding areas? This specialty has made its way across the pond from the United Kingdom, where it is extremely popular, and we are thrilled to offer vocal massage to our clients in St. Albert and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about this unique massage service and to book an appointment.

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