Category: Exercises

Breathing Exercise

 

Here is a video of a breathing exercise that will help with relaxation and with VCD. It comes from yoga and the exercise is demonstrated on video.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction Breathing and Exercise Videos

What Is Vocal Cord Dysfunction

When you breathe, the  vocal cords in your voice box open as you breathe in and then close over, though not fully, while you breathe out. When you speak or sing, the vocal cords vibrate to make a noise.

If it is suspected that you have VCD, you may be given a breathing test, called spirometry that looks at how air moves in and out of your lungs. Unfortunately if your suspected VCD is not active when you go for testing, your results may be normal so it can be difficult to check whether you actually have VCD.

In this case, it is possible to trigger an attack, so the cords can be watched. This can be done using an irritant or an exercise stress test, so the vocal cords can be watched in the VCD situation. The classic form of VCD shows that the vocal cords move towards each other when you breathe IN (instead of opening fully) leaving a small triangular hole for air to move through.  This is the opposite of what happens with people who have asthma, where the vocal cords close over on breathing OUT and they do not show the triangular shaped hole. VCD can often be mistaken  for asthma, which is the most common chronic illness among children.

The big difference between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma is that VCD causes more difficulty breathing in than breathing out and the opposite for asthma. It is possible to suffer from both.

Voice Therapy

It is possible to improve VCD by the use of voice therapy. This can include singing exercises. You should consult your voice therapist for exercises that will suit your condition. Many people use voice exercises from singing to help train and improve their vocal cord functions.

Singing is a great way to express yourself. You can stand or sit right where you are and sing. It is a way to communicate, creatively and effectively. Singers who want to extend their range or improve their voice, take lessons and practice various exercises. Many of these can also help improve VCD.

For some people, exercise of any sort may mean losing some sleep but for opera singers, for instance, physical fitness, as well as voice fitness is essential to their performance. Using some of these exercises may help but it will depend on the reason, (if any) nature and extent of your VCD  as to how much your voice will improve.

If you decide to practice singing, consult your voice therapist and they may advise you to keep any practice sessions to an hour or less to prevent injury to your vocal chords. You may even need to start out with ten minute sessions to build up your vocal cords. If you feel pain when practising singing exercises, consult your voice therapist.

Relaxation

Managing VCD generally involves using several techniques, such as speech therapy with emphasis on vocal cord relaxation and breathing techniques. Speech therapists can prescribe special exercises to help you be more aware of abdominal breathing and learn to relax your throat muscles. This can give you more control over your throat and breathing. The exercises should be practised when you have no symptoms, so you already know how to use them when you need to during a VCD bout. These exercises will help you improve your vocal cord movements and also improve airflow to the lungs.

Vocal Exercises

Warm up your voice first. There are many different types of good singing exercises that can be use to warm up the voice. If you are doing this to improve VCD, consult your therapist first.

Is VCD An Allergic Response

VCD and Asthma Symptoms

With Vocal Cord Dysfunction, sufferers may have a cough and wheezing and difficulty in breathing; and they may feel they have a tightness in their throat or they may find their voice goes hoarse. These symptoms are very similar to those of asthma and both can be triggered by such things as colds or viruses, breathing in lung irritants, such as smoke or even exercising. Reflux from the stomach (GERD) can also be a trigger.

An Allergy Or Not?

Unlike asthma, however, VCD is NOT an allergy nor an allergic response and the treatments for both are very different. They are also different in that asthma sufferers have more difficulty breathing out than in, whereas VCD suffers have more difficulty on the in breath. Also, the allergic response of asthma means the bronchial tubes constrict (tighten), whereas it is the muscles in the vocal cords that tighten with VCD. VCD can also result from paralysis of one (unilateral paralysis) or both (bilateral paralysis) of the vocal cords.

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It is possible to suffer from both simultaneously and in this case, it’s important to see a specialist who has experience with these types of complex situations.

Treatment for the allergic type reactions in Asthma may include the use of an inhaler to expand (dilate) the bronchial tubes, whereas treatment for VCD may include relaxation techniques and muscle control exercises for the throat muscles.

Vocal Cord Exercises

Vocal cords, or vocal folds as they are more properly known, are what allow us to control the sounds that come out of our mouths. For professional singers, vocal cords need to be maintained in top condition so that they can perfectly control the pitch of their voice while performing. Like any muscle group, practice can help strengthen the control of your vocal cords. There are a wide variety of vocal cord exercises that can be done to improve your voice or help you recover from vocal cord dysfunction or injury.

The first exercise starts with a yawn. You need to open your mouth as wide as possible. By stretching your arms out, the movement will become more natural in some people. When you have finished exhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth and take in a deep breath. On exhaling the second time you want to make the “ahhhh” sound as if you are letting go a sigh for about four seconds. The sound should come from deep within the throat, and you need to be careful to continue to make the sound throughout the exhale.

This process should be repeated at least ten times. The sounds should be done as softly as possible. It is much more important that you pay attention to the sound itself, rather than trying to strive for a loud volume. When the exercise is finished, the throat should feel very open.

The next exercise exercise starts with a deep breath taken in from your belly. This time on the exhale you will make the “oo…” sound like in stool. You should also form an “O” with your lips when exhaling the sound out. Again, the emphasis here is on form and not volume. The sound should be as low as possible. Make the sound for approximately 10 seconds.

Next, relax the cheeks and breath in through your mouth and nose. The breath should be intense enough to slightly press out the cheeks. If done correctly, you will notice the vibration in your lips. Once the breath is taken in, make the “oo” sounds again as in the first step. Repeat this exercise ten times.

The next exercise is slightly different from the last one. Again, you will begin with a deep abdominal breath. This time when blowing out you want to keep your lips together, protruding slightly from your mouth. The cheeks and lips should be relaxed as much as possible. From this position, you will make the “brrrr” sound as if you are freezing cold. You should feel the rapid vibration of the sound against your lips. Take in a deep breath as before and then repeat. Do this exercise ten separate times.

The next exercise will work within a larger range of sound. You want to start with the lowest pitched sound that you can make with your voice, and gradually work your way to the highest pitched sound that you can make. The sound you will be making this time while changing pitch is “whoop-puh” with most of the emphasis on the “whoop” while scaling up the pitch. Again, the sound should be soft with an emphasis on precise form. Ideally there should be no pause in the voice as one climbs up towards a higher pitch.

Repeat the previous exercise ten different times. When finished, reverse the process. This time you want to start with a high pitch and work down to the lowest pitch. Say the word “boom” this time. This should also be completed ten times with an emphasis in keeping the sound continuous, as before.

The above exercises help you to gain better control of your voice, and are especially good for singers. However, if your vocal cords ever become physically injured you might need some additional exercises to help to restore the function.

One of the best ways of strengthening weakened vocal cords is to repeat words starting with vowels (such as “Easter”, “old”, and “air”) over and over. Repeating “Ah, Ah, Ah” ten times in a row, putting a hard emphasis on the first word can help to strengthen your vocal cords. In addition, saying “Ah” once with a sharp voice as well as a very prolonged “Ah….” for about 10 seconds will also help. Ideally each of these exercises should be done ten times in a row for three times per day if suffering from weakened vocal cords.

Learning to relax the throat is also important to recover from some vocal cord injuries. This is particularly important for people who have conditions such as vocal cord dysfunction where the cords tighten up on an inward breath, mimicking the symptoms of asthma.

To practice relaxing the vocal cords, start on your back with your feet touching the floor. Concentrate on relaxing your upper body, particularly your head, shoulders, and throat. Inhale slowly in through the nostrils and exhale through slightly pursed lips making a “shhhh” sound. Make sure to be cognizant of your abdomen to gauge the breath as you perform this exercise. After doing it on the floor, try it in different postures while seated.

Your vocal cords can exercised like other voluntary muscles in your body. Whether you are a singer looking for a more melodious voice or a person who has suffered severe trauma to the throat, you can use the techniques outlined in this article to improve the function of your voice box.

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How To Improve Vocal Cord Dysfunction

How To Heal Vocal Cords

Vocal cord dysfunction, also known as VCD, has often been mistaken as Asthma, and at times can co-exist with Asthma. Due to the similarities between the two, it is likely the unnecessary prescribed medication will be given and changed often for the patient, until the right diagnosis of VCD is truly found by a doctor.

Unfortunately, 59 percent of patients are often misdiagnosed with Asthma, prior to knowing they have VCD. Vocal cord dysfunction is often found more in women than in men, and the common age of detection is in persons 20 to 40 years of age, although it has been detected in children as young as eight years of age.

VCD is a syndrome in which airway obstruction leads to respiratory distress, due to improper vocal cord motion. VCD is a condition where your vocal cords don’t function as normally as they should, and instead of the vocal cords opening when you breathe, they close, making it harder for you to get air into your lungs. Patients often describe excessive wheezing, choking sensations, cough and throat tightness associated with vocal cord dysfunction, as well they can experience shortness of breath, chest and throat tightness, chronic cough, frequent throat clearing, voice hoarseness and wheezing.

A detailed patient history is needed to differentiate between the diagnosis of asthma and VCD. VCD is noted with more difficulty in inhalation rather than exhalation, and with the increased sensation of throat tightness or choking. Pulmonary function testing and laryngoscopy usually helps in determining the correct diagnosis.

VCD is a treatable syndrome. A patient is usually referred to a speech-language pathologist to help and provide treatment for VCD. The pathologist will provide education and treatment based on each patients need, and will schedule follow-up appointments to reinforce the treatment given, as well as to support and encourage patients. Speech therapy is the usual form of improvement and treatment for vocal cord dysfunction.

To improve your VCD syndrome there are individualized exercises and techniques given as the patient’s treatment regimen. Some of the exercises taught in therapy treatment involve; increased awareness of breathing patterns, awareness of body posture and throat relaxation, VCD released breathing techniques, control VCD during exercise, suppression techniques for chronic cough, throat clearing techniques, and vocal hygiene. This exercise and therapy regimen is used to improve, prevent and eliminate vocal cord dysfunction. Patients also need to become aware of possible triggers of VCD which could be set off by; upper respiratory infections, exposure to airborne irritants, strong odors or fumes, cigarette or fire smoke, exercise, singing, laughing, environmental changes, stress, anxiety and tension.

As with any other diagnosis related to stress, anxiety and tension, counseling may be needed to help with lifestyle changes needed to improve your VCD. Counseling may also be needed for the extensive treatments, doctor visits and medications

prescribed prior to the proper diagnosis. Some patients fear the worst when symptoms do not go away after numerous prescribed medications and doctor visits. When patients are desperate to find out the problem associated with their symptoms and be correctly diagnosed, they can experience anxiety and stress, which is a known trigger of vocal cord dysfunction. Counseling might be an important part of treatment for VCD, to help with the anxiety and stress some patient’s experience.

The improvement for this condition is not difficult; it just takes time, care and patience. Following the guidelines, exercises, and advice of your physician will help with the prevention and possible elimination of vocal cord dysfunction. With lifestyle changes patients can lead a normal life, and enjoy the activities and exercises they desire. Patients must understand the triggers associated with vocal cord dysfunction and learn how to manage situations that might trigger symptoms. Learning to control stress, anxiety and tension is important in aspects of life, as these symptoms can lead to bigger health concerns. Understand the diagnosis given, listen to your physician and ask questions, be aware of your environment and triggers associated with vocal cord dysfunction. Acknowledge and commit to the treatment, therapy exercises and changes needed to improve vocal cord dysfunction and start living life normally again. In the end not only will you improve your VCD condition but you may even eventually eliminate it.

Exercises to Improve Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a condition that that can often be mistaken for asthma. The vocal cords are in your throat and are also known as the voicebox. Normally the vocal cords will relax and open when you breath, allowing air to get into your lungs. In people with VCD, the vocal cords do not function properly and actually will, on occasion, close down the air passageway while breathing. The result is a wheezing or choking sensation that can mimic an asthma attack. However, the treatment of VCD is quite different from that for asthma, as speech therapy and a variety of vocal exercises form the basis of an effective treatment regimen.

VCD is a problem that doctors still do not know a lot about. A wide variety of things are known to trigger an attack. Reflux of gastric acids into the throat, exercise, coughing, laughing, or exposure to certain chemicals can all lead to an attack. Understanding the cause or causes of an attack in an individual is the first step towards treating the disease. In some severe cases, surgery might be necessary to treat an underlying anatomical problem with the vocal cords. However, since the vocal cords are technically voluntary muscles that we can control, speech therapy and exercises can be enough to treat the disease in many cases.

There are a number of exercises that can be useful in treating the disease. These serve two purposes. The first is that exercises can help one better take control of the vocal cords in order to prevent an attack. The other goal is that exercises will help to show a person what to do in the midst of an attack to keep the vocal cords from closing completely. By practicing these exercises constantly when one is not having an attack, the hope is that when an attack arises, instead of panicking, a person will calmly perform the exercise as trained.

Ideally all patients should seek out diagnosis and treatment by a team of specialists if they believe they might suffer with VCD. Each speech therapist will custom tailor a set of exercises based on the specific underlying causes of the VCD. Some sample exercises are listed in this article, although one should always check with a physician before beginning any treatment regimen.


The first exercise that can help improve vocal cord dysfunction begins with lying on your back on the floor. Place your feet on the floor with your knees pointed upward into the air. Let your entire upper body relax, especially in the throat, head, and neck area. Have a book handy to place on your belly which will help you to monitor and be conscious of your breathing as you inhale and exhale (breathe in and breathe out).

Start the exercise by breathing in through your nose using your abdomen. Leave the muscles of the upper chest completely relaxed. You only want to use your belly to take in the breath. Once you have finished inhaling, you will exhale through your mouth. Your lips should be puckered as if you are blowing out a candle. As you exhale (breathe out) use your vocal cords to make the soft “shhhhh” sound. Allow your belly to contract naturally without pushing it, observing the book as this happens.

This exercise should be continued for several minutes at a time. As your perform it, you want to vary the length of your breaths from short to longer. This exercise should be performed from three to five times daily.

The next exercise takes place in the upright position while sitting in a chair. Make sure to sit up straight with your spine straight. Do not slouch. You can improve your posture by making sure your shoulders stack back and relaxed while the chin is tucked in roughly parallel to the floor. It can be difficult for some people to maintain this position because we are so used to reclining chairs that don’t provide our backs with the proper exercise to keep our muscles in trim.

Now place your hands at the sides on your lower rib cage and allow your elbows to flare out. You want to use them to be conscious of your breathing as you were with the book earlier. You will proceed just as before. Keep your upper body, throat, and neck relaxed while slowly drawing in a breath with your belly. Be sure to keep your awareness on the breath using your hands.

Your exhale will also be as before. Let the rib cage relax and contract naturally, keeping a relaxed upper body. As you exhale, whisper “shhhh” with your vocal cords through pursed lips. Continue this process for several minutes, varying the length of your breaths periodically.

Once you have finished breathing in this position, the next step is to vary your posture. Lean forward while performing the same exercise for a few minutes. The entire circuit in the seated position should be completed three to five times per day, preferably after you finish the parallel exercise on your back.

If you encounter a VCD attack in the future, then you should immediately stop what you are doing and focus on your breathing. Start to do one of the above exercises in the posture that is most convenient for your situation. These should be initiated at the first signs of trouble whether it be shortness of breath or just any sort of tightening in the throat.

Vocal cord dysfunction is not a problem that many physicians know about, and thus often goes misdiagnosed and not properly treated. By seeing a qualified specialist and learning specific breathing exercises such as the ones outlined above, you can begin to reclaim your life from the clutches of VCD.

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