If you are a vocalist then taking care of your vocal chords means having a healthy routine. It is best to avoid loud places where you talk over room noise. You must steam and warm up your vocal chords every day especially before singing. Sinus rinse, vocal rest, refrain from late nights and alcohol. These are all regular activities in a “Be Good To Your Vocal Chords” routine. One I personally find extremely useful and practical to implement on a regular basis is the sinus rinse.
Vocal guru Valerie Morehouse has been guiding me in finding my own routine to maintain healthy and strong vocal chords. I have learned so much from Valerie about good vocal health, so I’m sharing some of these tips with you. Working with her has taught me what a key role clear sinuses play in a fantastic sounding instrument.
Having a perfectly resonant sound consistently means happy sinuses every day, because it is here that a large part of the voice resonates to create the sound we make when singing and speaking. She firmly believes in sinus rinsing and she scolds me when I don’t do it, as she should. I have even heard of instances where students Skype lessons with her from the bathroom. They rinse during the lesson only to find an instant improvement in sound clarity and vocal chords coming together properly.
Now, a common question people ask me especially in interviews is “what is the least favorite part of your job?” My response surprises many. I love calling singing a job, so all of it is my favorite and sinus rinsing is the only thing that comes to mind as my least favorite occupational requirement.
Rinsing is uncomfortable and, well kind of gross but it helps so much that the good unequivocally outweighs the bad. Performing in a different city every day or every other day and generally being on the go is tiring and wears me down, which is when I feel most susceptible to cold or flu. Numerous times I thought surely I was catching a bug, either from constantly being on a plane or from fatigue. But when I rinse I feel better instantly.
“But I’m not a singer” you say. The rinse is still worth considering. Think about it, your sinuses are like a screen filtering germs and particles trying to come into your body. The mucus lining the sinuses is the first line of defense. By rinsing you are giving relief to your immune system. The saline solution has a sanitizing effect.
My ear, nose, throat specialist Dr. Chester Griffiths, a top ENT, has also been pushing sinus rinsing on me for years and suggests I can do it more than once a day. A few times I was so sick and rinsed four or five times in a single day! If you don’t believe me just ask Dr. Oz.
Dr. Oz stated in one of his episodes he believes in the netti-pot. Personally I prefer the bottle and they are essentially the same as long as you buy the prepackaged saline solution. I feel the bottle is easier to maneuver and less messy. Neither way is particularly neat but they serve the same purpose. You must do it over the sink or in a shower. One friend say she uses hers in the bathtub, but I cannot picture doing it anywhere but over my bathroom sink.
Niel Med Sinus Rinse is the brand I buy. It’s available “over the counter” and you can find it at any pharmacy. The one disclaimer is you must must must use filtered or boiled water. Preferably the water temperature is just cooler than lukewarm. You definitely do not use warm or hot water. Sometimes when traveling if there are no means to warm it up I’ll use water straight from a sealed bottle. It’s not the most comfortable sensation because the water is a bit cooler than the ideal temperature but it’s not going to harm you either
Recently Valerie reminded me that a ready to go saline rinse is also available at pharmacies. It’s fast and effective. You just squirt it up the nose and it’s not uncomfortable at all. This sounds like a good one to keep in my gym locker.
Now I am not a doctor, and if you’ve had sinus surgery or other issues of concern you should ask your doctor if sinus rinsing is right for you. But it is a general rule and safe to say you should rinse your sinuses!
Once you do it you’ll want to…
Sinus Rinse and Repeat!
Valerie Morehouse links:
Blog about vocal nodules
Blog/Video feature by California Life HD