Does your throat hurt when you sing?
Then you’re probably doing it wrong.
There are a number of issues that can cause a sore throat when singing. We’ll cover them all below.
But most of the time, it is the result of incorrect technique.
The only way to fix that is to learn the fundamentals of singing and to practice them until you eliminate the bad habits causing your throat to hurt.
Keep reading to learn what problems lead to your throat hurting when singing and what to do about them. Before long, this issue will be a thing of the past.
Table of Contents
Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Sing?
Singing using only your throat, and not your diaphragm, can lead to throat ache. What people mean by “throat sing” is that your larynx goes up when you do it, and that causes you to basically choke yourself when you sing.
The first thing you have to do to find out why your throat hurts when singing is to understand how your vocal apparatus works. Once you understand it in general terms, you will be able to clearly see how you cannot sing with only your diaphragm or only your throat
There are also a number of other things that can cause your throat to hurt when you sing. Let’s take a look at those now, before getting into what you can do to solve this problem.
You Do Not Use Your Diaphragm
Do you especially have a hard time when you try to hit high notes? This is probably because the air you need to sing the notes is half suffocated in your larynx. You solve this by using your diaphragm in your breathing.
So what can you do? First, you need to become aware of your diaphragm and know how to activate it in your breathing. Then, it is important to know the the correct way to breathe when singing. Our beginning article on how to sing covers both, and has numerous exercises that will help.
You Are Tensing
This is a very frequent problem. 4 out of 5 people who sing recreationally have this bad habit. They force their voice when singing a high or long note. And that puts a strain on the throat.
Never force your voice to do what you want. That creates tension in your larynx and throat. This will cause you to wear yourself out and could even severely injure your vocal apparatus.
You can correct this habit by adopting the correct breathing and posture. Again, visit our article for beginning singers. It helps with all of the basic singing techniques.
You Don’t Drink Enough Water
It may sound a bit obvious but water is essential for the proper functioning of the body. That includes the voice. That is why you will always hear that you should drink more water when you sing.
Keep a bottle of water handy during your classes or rehearsals for a performance, and be sure to drink some between songs. But start hydrating well before you sing, too.
It takes a long time (they say about 30 minutes) for the water you drink to reach your bloodstream and hydrate your vocal cords. 30 minutes can easily be the duration of your entire rehearsal or singing performance, so if you feel a dry throat within 10 minutes of starting, you know to drink more water beforehand next time.
Another piece of advice here is to avoid overly salty foods, or drinks with alcohol or caffeine, before a practice session, rehearsal or performance. All of those can dehydrate you, meaning you would need even more water to compensate.
You Are Not Taking Care Of Yourself
If your throat hurts when singing, it could also be because you are not taking care of yourself enough. One important way you need to care for yourself is by getting sufficient rest. Most people need 7 or 8 hours of daily rest.
It will sound very cliché but, like hydration, rest is essential for the recovery of your muscles, including your vocal cords.
You’re also not taking care of yourself if you yell when you sing. You need to differentiate between having power when singing and shouting.
Screaming is not the same as singing, with the exception of scream singing. Having a powerful voice means that you are resonating properly, not that you are simply loud. When you resonate correctly you should feel a small vibration on the lips.
Singers with more experience and who have a highly developed vocal technique can even feel that their voice vibrates, and that it comes out of the top of their heads. When you resonate properly, your throat no longer hurts when you sing.
Excess mucus on the vocal cords can be quite a serious problem. There are four main reasons you may have excess mucus.
- Medical problems. If you suspect you may have a medical issue, visit your otolaryngologist.
- Do you pay attention to what you eat? Some foods tend to cause you to generate a lot of mucus.
- Misuse of your voice. As explained above, never force your voice to do what you want. If you do, you will get the opposite effect.
- Insufficient hydration. Water helps the body thin out mucus and expel it. If you are not drinking enough, try drinking more.
Snot itself is not a bad thing unless the viscosity and/or quantity are abnormal. The problem is when the mucus does not allow your vocal cords to vibrate freely.
When they can not vibrate freely, you unconsciously compensate by using muscles that you shouldn’t be using, which will cause a lot of stress on the vocal cords and only make things only worse. If you have this problem and you think it is the reason why your throat hurts when singing, stop and rest.
How To Sing Without Hurting Your Throat
The short answer is that you have to train your mixed voice. The long answer… well, it’s the same. Work on discovering and training your mixed voice!
Roger Love’s singing program is great for this, since he focuses on the mixed voice.
Training your mixed voice is the way to achieve a healthy, powerful, free, and flexible voice. The problem is that it is a long process that requires a lot of work.
During the time it takes to learn to use your voice correctly, you will undoubtedly discover many ways to do it wrong. Far more than you would like. And chances are your throat will hurt again when you sing, or even when you practice.
Allow your voice to sound bad, both when singing and practicing! It’s okay for your voice to sound weird or do weird things.
You are discovering and establishing new muscle patterns, patterns that you have never used, or have previously used incorrectly. You will also have to do exercises that require you to make ugly sounds, that are nothing like what you are used to singing.
You must be very clear that all this is not bad. It is all part of the learning process. As you go through it, you should also notice that your voice is becoming more and more stable, however slow the progress may be.
But just letting your voice do all types of weird things and not sound the way you’d like doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the right track. You need to distinguish between bad sounds the lead to improvement and those that don’t.
This is where good vocal lessons really come in handy especially if you have access to a live vocal coach. Even if you are using video lessons only, they will teach you the correct techniques, which is often sufficient.
But if you face an issue like a sore throat every time you sing and none of the above helped solve it, having a professional voice coach to guide you onto the right path is essential.
If you find yourself in that situation, you may want to pay for just one or two lessons, to have a professional coach take a listen and let you know what you are doing wrong.
Why Your Throat Hurts When You Sing: Final Thoughts
When you do get a sore throat from singing, rest is the best medicine. Sometimes the body needs a break, whether we like it or not. It is important to let your voice rest, so that we can move forward again.
There’s nothing worse than continuing to work on bad vocal cords. You will only end up doing more damage and then having to wait even longer before you can resume singing at full capacity.
Allow your vocal instrument to heal, before using it. And then, make sure you learn how to use it correctly, to avoid any further damage.