What's my tongue got to do with anything?

I love you guys so much, you know that? You ask such smart questions. This one came after last week's blog post.

You said to drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.

I was curious what benefits this had for a muskeloskeltal issues and general tightness? 

I find myself now constantly trying to drop my tongue now but it keeps going back like it's supposed to be a natural position for it.

It’s a very good question.

Now, first of all, of course that position will feel natural if you’ve been doing it for a long time, habits always feel more natural than new motor skills.

It takes a fair amount of muscular effort to press the tongue up to the soft palate - same as it requires a fair amount of muscular effort to keep your pelvic floor in a constantly  contracted position. Over time, you get adaptive change and your muscles ‘forget' they have the ability to slide both long AND short. Which means you end up with different, smaller, ranges of motion in your joints.

PLUS our diaphragms move reciprocally.

That's right, you have more than one diaphragm. 

This infographic is far from anatomically correct but hopefully will help you get a visual on how the diaphragms at your throat, ribcage and pelvis move together. I did the best I could with my limited art skillz.

They have to do this in order to accommodate for, among other things, breathing.

On inhale you need your throat to relax so you can get air IN, your thoracic diaphragm to contract and change the volume in your chest cavity, thereby sucking air in because the outside air pressure is lower than inside you, and your pelvic diaphragm to relax so your internal organs can descend to make space for that air.

And the whole thing needs to reverse for exhale - you need to close your throat up a bit so that air isn't trying to get in as you empty your lungs.

So what does breathing have to do with the tongue? 

Well, pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth constantly is a sucking position, and as you see in the handy infographic, that means all three diaphragms are going to be slightly lifted as long as that tongue is up. Not ideal, you need to be able to move them freely.

The tongue is anchored to the hyoid bone which is the only bone in our bodies that has no bony joint with any other part of the skeleton.

It’s the topmost point of our deep front line which provides core support and influences range of motion in the spine and, you guessed it, the hips.

Babies suckle and that action starts to build the core strength they need to crawl and ultimately walk. If you ‘suckle’ all the time i.e. press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, that is the ‘slide short’ part of suckling. The other, equally important part, is releasing to allow everything to lengthen out. Muscles with a very short resting length cannot contract or ‘slide short’ and therefore cannot generate force.

And NOBODY wants to have a pelvic floor that can't contract as it needs to amirite?

(cough, peecough, cough)

And that, folks, is why you need to relax that tongue of yours!