If you're interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Move Your DNA, Expanded Edition. If you'd like movement instruction via video, start with Alignment Snacks: A Real Pain in the Neck.
Let’s talk tongue.
What’s the strongest muscle in the human body? If you guessed the tongue, you are...wrong. If you were hoping to read a post on the strongest muscle (the uterus, baby) you’ll have to read this (click) instead. Today, we are talking about that giant hunka hunka in your mouth.
Just like the foot, the tongue has both intrinsic and extrinsic muscles. The intrinsic muscles are all located within the tongue and are can change the tongue’s shape. The extrinsic muscle have one end located in the tongue and the other elsewhere in the mouth. Extrinsic muscles move the tongue around in and out of the mouth, side to side, that kind of thing.
(Tell, me, honestly, who was moving their tongue around when they were reading that?)
The musculature of the tongue is extremely important, and fine motor skill (the ability to command your tongue into various shapes) is required for speech, eating, and swallowing correctly. Here are a few exercises to see how your tongue shapes up. You can use a mirror, the reverse-camera on your iPhone or your co-worker to see how you are doing.
Note: No tongues were harmed in the filming of these exercises.
First exercise: Flat tongue.
This one is pretty easy. You get points for the thinner and flatter you can make it. And hold it there for awhile and see if it trembles.
Second exercise: U-shaped tongue.
I know. You probably learned in 7th grade science that the ability to do this is genetic. I’d like to tell those science teachers to stop teaching crap from the 1940s that has been disproved about a hundred times. You’re not helping Science out either, Textbook Publishers.
Third exercise: Turd tongue.
FYI, this might have a different name, but this is what I call it. And, P.S. No one has ever mistook me for a debutante. Ever. But that’s what it looks like, right? The more you can get the sides of the tongue to move to the center and the farther and straighter you can poke it out while you're doing it, the better.
Why should you care about these muscles? Because the skills of speaking, swallowing, digesting food, and even the tension in your neck and jaw are all affected by the strength and skill of these muscles. Working on these exercises will also have a nice affect on the fascial system and biomechanics of the throat.
Do I have to mention that kids love these too?
And by kids, I mean the person sitting across from you at work?