Why is Tongue Position Important?
It is important because tongue position can help manage weight distribution throughout your body as well as function of your neck, position of your jaw and can alter your ability to build intra-abdominal pressure (core stability).
The tip of your tongue should rest on the top of the mouth but a little bit back from the upper front teeth. This tongue resting position provides stimulation to the pituitary gland. Hormones released from the pituitary gland are hugely important in helping your body react to stress as well as regulating sugar and fat metabolism amongst many other vital functions.
What Nerve Controls Tongue Movement?
The hypoglossal nerve controls the majority of musculature to the tongue, however the nerve exits the skull via the hypoglossal canal located within the occiput (where the skull meets neck). As a result a whiplash incident or impact trauma to the neck can alter the function of the hypoglossal nerve and in turn the position of the tongue.
Tongue position is imperative for feedback to hyoid (floating bone in the neck) and jaw position so speech articulation, swallowing and stabilising the airway for breathing are optimal.
Is your Tongue in the Correct Position?
Can you do all three of the following functions? (Best to use a mirror to see what is going on as what you feel is happening may not always be the case)
- Can you elevate the tip of your tongue to the top of your mouth on both the left and right hand side?
- Can you poke your tongue out equally to both the right and left hand side of your mouth?
- Can you roll your tongue to both right and left hand side of your mouth?
If you’re struggling in one particular direction to achieve any of the above do you also notice you experience any of the below:
- Stiffness on the same side of the neck to which you struggle to move the tongue, for instance?
- Do you find your jaw shifts predominantly in one direction?
- You find it hard to swallow?
- You find it hard to breathe in to the abdomen and therefore build intra-abdominal pressure?
What can be done to Improve Tongue Position?
- Margaret Martin Tongue Position and Head Posture for Exercise – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcM2FzSBWJA
- Sagittal COGS to encourage decompression of the upper neck – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n2mMcSkTX4
- Release work for your SCM as the hypoglossal nerve (nerve that controls tongue muscles) can become impinged between the SCM and mylohyoid muscles of the neck – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNTtiLOqT8Q
If you have a history of neck traumas or feel your tongue position may be part of your puzzle please do get in touch.
As always hope you enjoyed the read.
Call – 07745 039 485
Email – Ben@BenFedrickInjuryTherapy.co.uk