Oral Motor Exercises : Focus on a jaw, lips, tongue movement and positioning.
It is a well-known fact that our body posture is very important. Your head should sit directly on the neck and shoulders.The weight of the head , holding forward, puts a tremendous strain on the neck and upper back muscles. Unfortunately, our life style doesn't contribute to a proper posture maintenance. Look around - our postures are "forward head postures" when we are checking our smartphones, tablets, computers. Looking down at your computer monitor all day can cause the muscles around the neck joints become overstretched. The result can be an aching, stiff neck and back accompanied by headaches and shoulder pain.
Have you ever think about the relationship between your tongue position and the body posture?
The human head is quite heavy. The average adult human brain weighs about 3 pounds, average human tongue weights about ~1 pound and consists of 8 muscles. That is why tongue position is very important for posture in general.
We are emphasizing the importance of the oral posture : "your lips are closed, tongue is flat and resting on the roof of your mouth with tip of the tongue behind the front teeth. Your upper and lower teeth are in a relaxed position and are not engaged." This tongue position helps to balance your head on the neck and keep proper posture of your body.. Tongue Exercises listed below will require the input from various stabilizing muscles - muscles of the neck and back.
Tongue (lingual) strength also plays a very important role in the process of swallowing food or drinking fluids . We use our tongue to move food inside of the mouth, mixing food with saliva, then form the bolus and direct it towards back of the mouth , proceeding towards swallowing stage.Surprisingly - the tongue helps to keep our teeth clean.
"The tongue is the only instrument that gets sharper with use". ~ Washington Irving Quotes
Oral exercises, including tongue, lip and jaw movements, are commonly used in clinical practice as training to improve oral and pharyngeal swallowing in dysphagia patients. With the development of functional magnetic resonance imaging scientists discovered brain activation during oral exercises in healthy population. (Emiko Ogura at al., 2011). These findings show that oral exercise training have a favorable influence on peripheral and central nervous systems.
According to multiple studies, it is very important to keep a good tongue (lingual) muscle strength, if "lingual strength is reduced, which further limits oral and pharyngeal structural movement during swallow . As a result, the swallowing muscles are no longer actively used and might eventually atrophy, affecting both oral and pharyngeal phase swallowing function, especially in the long term. " (Effects of Strengthening Exercises on Swallowing Musculature and Function in Senior Healthy Subjects: a Prospective Effectiveness and Feasibility Study S.A.C. Kraaijenga et al., 2015)
Also there is possible relationship between neuromotor control of speech and swallowing (Posterior tongue grooving in deglutition and speech: Preliminary observations Sandra L. Hamlet et al., 1988)
Oral motor exercises and FACEXER. Oral motor exercises may be implemented into therapy program for various reasons, whether it be to increase muscle tone and/or strength, stability, movement, or to increase overall awareness for feeding and/or speech production.
We hope you are convinced that the tongue is a very important conglomeration of the muscles and you are ready for exercising.
Have the FacExer pressed against your mouth and chin. Stick your tongue in front and push the FacExer with tongue as hard as possible for a count of 5 and do 10-15 repetitions.
Next, stick your tongue in front of you. This time have the FacExer placed on the right side of your tongue. Press against the FacExer as hard as you can (as if you’re trying to push the FacExer to the corner of your mouth). Hold for a count of 5. Repeat this exercise with the left side of your tongue.
- Already well known sucking motion exercise is tremendously important tongue exercise. This exercise is very important for jaw and lips strengthening as well.
Place the middle part of the FacExer in your mouth between tongue and roof of the mouth. Press remainder of FacExer against your lips and chin. Do not engage your teeth. Hold the FacExer with your lips and start a sucking motion with your tongue. A suck occurs with positive pressure and negative pressure. Positive pressure occurs when the jaw elevates, the tongue elevates to the hard palate, and the lips are sealed. Hold in this position for a count of 5. Negative pressure occurs when the jaw drops, the tongue moves away from the hard palate, cheeks contract, the soft palate elevates, and the lips remain sealed. Notice the majority of the muscles above your shoulders – muscles of the neck, chin, tongue, forehead, around your eyes, around the mouth - are engaged in this motion – isotonically or isometrically.
As you gain strength repeat this exercise creating more resistance by pulling the FacExer away from your face during suction motions. The resistance applied should be less than the muscles are capable of overcoming. Resistance during exercises can be varied if desired, by moving the hand further away from or closer to the mouth.
Exercises for jaw muscles
Tip: Use two FacExers simultaneously for exercising symmetrical muscles of the face. Benefits: you are giving the equal load for both sides of your face and also you save time for exercising.
- Muscles: Risorius. Symmetrical.
- .Place both FacExers bilaterally at the corners of your mouth keeping your lips together. Try to draw the corners of your mouth straight back as you pronounce sound 'eee'. Feel the resistance of FacExer bilaterally. Hold for a count of 5. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Muscle: Zygomaticus Major.Symmetrical.
- Place both exercisers bilaterally just outside the corners of your mouth onto your cheeks. Draw the corners of your mouth upwards and outwards as in smiling. Feel resistance of FacExer. Hold for a count of 5. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Muscle: Buccinator. Symmetrical muscle.
Press your FacExers against mouth and lips area in order to stabilize skin. Hold the inside of your cheeks firmly against your side teeth and draw back the corners of the mouth as when pursing your lips as if to playing FacExer as trumpet. Hold for account of 5. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Muscle: Pterygoideus Medialis and Lateralis.
Press FacExers against both sides of your lower face and chin area. Try to push your lower jaw forward exposing your lower teeth. Hold on a count of 5. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Gently bite FacExer, apply pressure with your teeth as you are biting of an apple. Repeat 5-10 times. As you gain strength repeat this exercise creating more resistance by pulling the FacExer away from your face.
Cheek lifting exercises
Cheek lifting exercises help to elevate lines and permit a more natural, rounded contour, reduce malar bags .
"Malar Bags, which may appear as "cheek dents," generally manifest toward the outside, upper portion of the cheek area. Multiple factors may contribute to their development, among them the natural volume deflation and sagging that comes with aging and drainage problems in the small lymphatic vessels in the region. Owing to the latter, anything that affects fluid dynamics, like allergic reactions, fatigue, excessive salt consumption, etc. may worsen the appearance.of malar bags" according to Dr. Nelson Lee Novick, New York Dermatologic Surgeon.(Web reference: http://YoungerLookingWithoutSurgery.com )
Next exercise is focusing on the strengthening neck and facial muscles of the middle cheek area - zygomaticus, risorius, orbicularis oris, buccinator, masseter.
- For each exercise: Hold for a count of 5. Repeat as indicated ( 5-10 repetitions initially, increase amount of sets to 10-15 over time as tolerating).
Next exercise is focusing on jaw line area.
The problem zone: fleshy or droopy lower part of the cheeks, saggy muscles of the lower jaw (jowls). We recommend practising this exercise in front of the mirror.
- Start from the resting position “1”– standing or sitting , with lips closed, tongue flat and resting on the roof of your mouth with the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth, but not touching teeth. Your upper and lower teeth are in a relaxed position and are not engaged.
- Press FACEXERs against your left or and right jowls area.(or both sides if you exercising with 2 FACEXERs) It is advisable to use some moisturiser on the area underneath the eyes to prevent wrinkle formation, or press the second FACEXER against area where crow’s feet might be formed and exercise one side of your face, then another side of the face.
3 . Push your jaw and lower teeth forward, roll your lower lip over your upper lip and upper teeth. Try to stretch up your lower jaw muscles as much as possible. Feel the warming (burning) sensation on the both sides of the jaw.
- Raise both corners of your mouth like when you smile, and using your cheeks muscle, make an exaggerated tight wink. Hold for account of 5
- keeping the wink and the smile, raise your chin up towards the ceiling. Hold for a count of 5. Make sure position of your mouth and eyes are not changed. Feel warming sensation in you lower jaw muscles.
- Keeping your muscles tension on, slowly turn your head to the right. Hold for a count of 5.
- Keeping your muscles tension on, slowly turn your head to the left. Hold for a count of 5.
- Holding FACEXER at the same position, focus on keeping continuous tension on the lower jaw muscles. Slowly and steady turn your head towards the ceiling again. Hold for a count of 5.
9. Slowly and gradually return to positions 3-2-1.
How many repetitions of this exercise should you perform? When initially beginning to perform this particular exercise, perform one - two repetitions, and gradually increase number of repetition over a continued period of time until 5-10 repetitions are completed.
Remember: all exercises will build strength by steadily resisting force. Doing the exercises properly is important. Take your time and focus on each motion as well as the muscles you are using.
How do you know if the exercising is working for you? You will feel the warming sensation in the region you are working out. It means blood flow is increased to the region of muscular work. When a muscle contracts, energy is used. The byproduct of this process is lactic acid which could build up with intense exercising and cause a burning sensation. Reduce the amount of repetitions if the pleasant warming sensation turns to “feeling a burn”.
Warning: Before beginning any exercise program, you should always consult with your doctor or physician, particularly if you have or suspect any sort of medical condition that might be worsened by exercise. Although exercise is beneficial to most people's skin, it can also exacerbate certain skin conditions. If in doubt, consult your doctor or physician.