Dear Readers, yes, tongue exercises are really a thing. It’s called myofunctional therapy. What you do is you learn how to stretch and move the tongue in different directions so it does not get flaccid (limp) over time, and this keeps the airway more open because the adjacent muscles will tend to be in better shape! So, think of it like this, you go to the gym because the muscles under your upper arm droop and sag down. You work out to strengthen these muscles and they now are tight and healthy. The throat works in much the same way.
Did you know that your tongue can hold fat deposits, just like your belly? If you were ever overweight in the past, your tongue would likely have fat deposits in it, and these are kind of hard to lose. The tongue, like any other muscle in the human body, needs to exercise. But like most patients who are referred to a myofunctional therapist, they don’t go, they won’t do it. It costs money and time, and they feel like it’s kind of silly to exercise this area of the body. Well, folks, it does work and does make lots of sense, so get out there and start exercising that tongue!
In so many cases where a patient has sleep apnea, the tongue is quite large and is full of fat tissue. This can readily be seen on an X-ray that shows the tongue and what can be seen is that the tongue is elevated because it is thick due to fat deposition. Like so many areas of the human body, if you exercise the tongue and surrounding tissues, the fat will decrease over time which will effectively open the airway for better breathing. Snoring usually reduces as well as the tongue becomes smaller and tighter. The tissues around the tongue also become more toned with these exercises so if you have sleep apnea, it might reduce as you exercise this area over time. In fact, in many of the dental sleep medicine training programs, it is taught that myofunctional exercises are mandatory to improve a patient’s health.
There are other obvious benefits to exercising your tongue. Your speech and articulation of words are improved, caused by the weakness in the tongue. If you have Dysphagia (trouble swallowing), your ability to develop a stronger tongue able to move more easily and then swallowing becomes easier. Finally, another plus is the jawline. Tongue exercises include the muscles groups below the chin and toning of the jawline begins.
So once again, dear reader, consider sticking out your tongue and making it work like it has never worked before. Get that tongue at attention! Get that tongue out there into the real world! Make that tongue healthier, happier, and improve your life!