What is it about?

Tube phonation underwater has been shown to be widely used in voice therapy for patients with voice disorders. This paper examines the muscle activation near the larynx when doing this exercise at various water depths with two different tube diameters.

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Why is it important?

Patients who use excess effort to produce voice have shown to have high activations in the muscles near the larynx, especially near the chin. Here we show 2 significant findings. First, wider diameters and deeper water depths during tube phonation will cause higher activations in muscles near the larynx and result in more vocal fold closure which would be optimal treatment for people who sound breathy and weak. Second, there was a noticeable difference in the neck muscle activation between men and women, with men activating more neck muscles as the water depth increased. This may suggest that there are physiological differences between men and women that may result in different muscle activation strategies while doing this exercise.


While there may be some stigma that extrinsic laryngeal muscle activations are "bad" for vocal health, muscle activation seems inevitable during what can be thought of as a healthy voice exercise. I hope that this article shows that extrinsic laryngeal muscle activation is neither good or bad for the patients or singers, and how we use these muscles during speech and singing are more important when quantifying vocal health.

Junseo Cha
University of Wisconsin Madison

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Extrinsic Laryngeal Muscle Activity With Different Diameters and Water Depths in a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Exercise, Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, April 2024, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2024_jslhr-23-00194.
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