Neck pain is a common complaint that can be an annoyance or extremely debilitating. It can be caused from an injury or from negative posture. Whatever the reason the pain develops, one of the most important and effective things you can do is to strengthen the tongue muscle.
The tongue muscle has some obvious functions, chewing and speech, but did you know that it is also designed to help support the weight of the head? On the average person, the head weighs 8-10 pounds when it is properly aligned. Yet the head can put up to 100lbs of pressure on the muscles of the upper back and neck when it falls forward out of alignment. Unfortunately, all you need to do is look around and see the common posture that is prevalent in society today.
Most people rest their tongue against the teeth, and often to one side. For me, when I am not conscious of its position, my tongue is always jutting forward and to the right. I clench more on the left side of my teeth, and this is, in part, the reason why.
Notice at the roof of the mouth there is a ridge, about 1cm from the teeth. Also notice how the tongue perfectly fits into this space. It is like a dock for the tongue. With the tongue in this position, it helps to support the weight of the head, and pulls the head back to a more correct alignment, relieving stress from the muscles in the area. This also helps to align the vertebrae, reducing the wear and tear of the cartilage in the neck.
Also notice that when the tongue is in this position, you can’t breathe through the mouth. It is important to breathe through the nose for a number of reasons. There are sensors in the nostrils, nose breathing warms and cleans the air as it is entering the lungs, and the life force receptors, (receptors for prana), reside in the nostrils. The only time we should be breathing through the mouth is when we are talking, and in this case the tongue is active for that purpose.
Take the time and play around with this muscle. Sit as you normally do and place your hand behind your neck. Notice how there is a collapse from our forward head posture. Now, tuck the chin and place the tongue into the correct alignment and notice how that lengthens the back of the neck, creating more space for movement.
This is such an important postural activity that I devoted an entire 21day program in my Block Therapy Member site to strengthening this powerful muscle, as it can be a benefit to our life, or a hindrance, adding more pain and tension to the neck and upper back.
If you suffer from neck pain and want to learn how to strengthen the tongue muscle, get our free gift – Postural Ergonomics – Building Foundations from the Root Up. This is a great place to start the journey of moving your body into correct alignment.
Breathe & Believe