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Body Tension and the Tongue

Tongue ties are known to impact oral function and can cause various challenges, including difficulties with feeding, speech, and oral hygiene. However, the effects of tongue ties can extend beyond the oral cavity, leading to body tension and related issues. However, this relationship goes both ways, with body tension contributing to the formation and restriction of the tie. Understanding this relationship and the importance of relieving this tension is critical for a successful release process.


The Tongue and The Fascia


As discussed in detail here, the frenulum is the tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It is composed of collagen fibers and elastin, providing strength and flexibility. It serves as an anchor, stabilizing the tongue and maintaining its position within the oral cavity Tongue ties occur when the frenulum is unusually tight or short. This restricts the tongue's range of motion, affecting its ability to perform essential functions like speech, breastfeeding, swallowing, chewing, and proper rest oral posture. Restricted tongue mobility can create tension not only in the oral muscles but also in other areas of the body.


The frenulum is connected to the fascia, a network of fibrous bands that envelop and interconnect muscles, organs, and other tissues throughout the body. The fascia is intricately intertwined with the frenulum, and any restriction or abnormality in the fascial network can contribute to the development of tongue ties.


Image: Tonguetiebabies on Instagram


The Relationship Between Tongue Ties and Body Tension


Restricted tongue movement can lead to compensatory patterns in other muscles and structures of the body. When the tongue canno


t adequately perform its functions, individuals may unknowingly engage other muscles in the face, neck, and body to compensate.


In newborns and infants, tension is often presented as torticollis, stiff limbs, tight shoulders and neck, toes curled under, hands in a fist, deep


set chin, and red, deep neck rolls. This tension can also manifest as lifting their head way too early, rolling over with their head leading the way, and discomfort in the car seat or other baby “containers”.


When carried into childhood and adulthood, prolonged muscle tension can result in headaches, neck and shoulder pain, TMJ disorders, and overall body discomfort.


Tongue ties can also influence posture and body alignment. In an attempt to compensate for restricted tongue mobility, individuals may adopt certain head and neck positions, which can affect spinal alignment and overall posture. This altered posture can contribute to muscle imbalances, further exacerbating body tension.


Breathing and Sleep


Tongue ties can influence the positioning of the tongue within the oral cavity, potentially affecting airflow and breathing patterns. When the to


ngue cannot rest naturally against the roof of the mouth, it rests on the floor of the mouth. This compromises the nasal breathing pathway and generally, pulls the mouth open, leading to mouth breathing. In turn, this can impact sleep quality, contribute to snoring, and result in disrupted breathing patterns during sleep. In infants, this can also sound like excessively loud sleeping, like grunting, coughing, and choking noises.


Why This Matters


The presence of this tension is why pre release bodywork and therapy, as well as at home considerations, are so important. W


e need to ensure the tension is lessened. While in many cases, the tension will not completely resolve itself until the release, we want to make sure the baby is as loose as possible before a release. When the tension is present and strong after a release, it can lead to the frenulum healing in the same position, too quickly, and w


ith the addition of scar tissue. This results in a “revision” where the tie has to be released again.


Going to a chiropractor, cranial sacral therapist, myofascial therapist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist can help you employ exercises that can help in your specific case, as well as perform therapies for you.


At home, you can do activities that help the baby get into extension like

  • Tummy Time

  • Guppy Stretch

  • Baby Bow

  • Tongue Mobility Work




There are also some lifestyle considerations that can really help with reducing tension. Remember, we are doing work of loosening the baby, we don’t want to undo the work we are doing with things that promote tension.

  • Reduce time in car seats (don’t carry baby around in the car seat. Personally I loved switching baby into a baby carrier)

  • Limit or eliminate bouncers, swings, and anything that keeps baby in C-shape

  • Limit or eliminate swaddling

  • Limit or eliminate baby containers

  • Limit or eliminate sitting tools (bumbo seats, etc) especially if the baby does not have the core development to hold themselves upright unassisted

Image: My son in his bouncer, notice his chin resting on his chest, keeping that tension tight.



Recognizing the connection between tongue ties and body tension is essential for understanding the potential impacts on overall well-being and getting proper treatment. It seems like a lot of work and it can be, however, it is all connected. To have a good experience, the first time through, working to reduce body tension is critical.




References:


Baxter, R., Musso, M., Hughes, L., Lahey, L., Fabbie, P., Lovvorn, M., & Emanuel, M. (2018). Tongue-tied: How a tiny string under the tongue impacts nursing, feeding, speech, and more. Alabama Tongue-Tie Center.

Crumbie, L. (2022, November 30). Tongue. Kenhub. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/tongue

González Garrido MdP, Garcia-Munoz C, Rodríguez-Huguet M, Martin-Vega FJ, Gonzalez-Medina G, Vinolo-Gil MJ.

Effectiveness of Myofunctional Therapy in Ankyloglossia: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(19):12347. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912347




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