A 3 Step Process

Tongue ties are often linked just to breastfeeding. Tongue ties are really about much more. Many adults, including myself, who have had tongue and lip tie releases are realizing it first hand. Reports of improved sleep, airway, neck pain, headaches, posture, and more are common. 

I have lectured on how the tongue is connected to the rest of the body anatomically. For years I have struggled to find objective ways to demonstrate how tongue ties affect the rest of the body.

I can feel the changes manually, but palpation is not considered reliable from person to person. Also this method would not work as well for other specialties who are not trained to palpate with their hands. I have tried this before in another post describing a dynamic motion that I believe is how the tongue lowers the palate in its resting posture.

Recently I discovered a method to show how the anatomy immediately reorganizes itself based on tongue position. I will describe my theories on how this happens anatomically in another post based on anatomy. If you want to be notified of future posts, sign up here:

Now let’s get to the task at hand. Does a tongue tie affect the rest of the body? It just so happens that my mother, at the age of 69, had a tongue tie release recently. Luckily I was able to attend the appointment. 

I took pictures of her hip heights before and after the procedure with my hands on top of her hips on the same landmark to be consistent. Before the procedure her right hip (iliac crest) was about one inch higher. After the procedure they were almost level. The picture doesn’t capture the difference as clearly as in person but it is visible. 

Before and after frenectomy (tongue tie release) images of iliac crest heights in a 69 year old female.
Before and after frenectomy (tongue tie release) in a 69 year old female

One thing that is not visible in the picture is how much more palpably relaxed her back felt after the procedure. As an isolated incident, this picture would not be a convincing example of how the tongue affects the rest of the body. But this is not all…

As I mentioned previously, I discovered a method to demonstrate how the tongue affects the body in real-time. This is something you can do with multiple people and is reproducible. All you need is a partner.  

Now let me describe the process in 3 steps:

Step 1: Place Your Hands On Your Partner’s Hips

This is like the picture above. Your partner should face away from you standing with feet about shoulder width apart. Next you want to place your hands on top of their hip bones. You do this by having flat hands with you palms facing towards the floor. 

Find the space on their torso below their ribs and above their hips. There should be no bones there. Gently place your hands there slightly squeezing your hands towards the midline. Now, bring your hands down until they land on top of the hip bones. 

I suggest squatting down to have your hands at eye level so you’re looking straight at your hands and not from an angle. Your hands are now in place and you’re ready to move onto the next step. 

Step 2: Get A Baseline

With your hands in place, ask your partner to place their tongue on the roof of their mouth where it should go under normal resting conditions. If they don’t know where, have them say a word that starts with the letter “t.” The tip of the tongue will go where it needs to and hopefully more of the tongue can rest on the palate. If not, that may indicate a tongue tie. 

In this exercise, the tongue will alternate from the palate to the floor of the mouth
To get a baseline, have your partner put their tongue on their palate while keeping your hands on their hips.

Once the tongue is in place, look at your hands on your partner’s hips. This is your baseline. Note if your hands are completely level or if one side is higher or lower than the other.  

Step 3: Mimic Mouth Breathing Or Tongue Tie Posture

Because tongue ties anchor the tongue to the floor of the mouth and mouth breathers cannot have their tongue on their palate, we want to mimic this. Ask your partner to move their tongue off of their palate and rest it on the floor of their mouth. Don’t let them open or close their mouth during this so the only thing that changes is the tongue. 

Once they have done that, look at your hands. Have the hip heights changed? Feel free to have tell your partner and have them go back and forth between the two positions. Try this on different people. 

What Should I Feel? 

What you have likely noticed is that the hip heights are different based on where the tongue is. However, there is no right or wrong experience. Even if the change is slight, you may feel some subtle motion under your hands. 

I want to be clear that this is not just a “fun” trick to do at parties. This is showing how the body anatomically reorganizes itself based on it’s posture. This refutes the claim that the tongue has nothing to do anatomically with other parts of the body like many think. 

It is not just the hip heights that change during this, it is the whole body. The same exercise could have easily been done with shoulder heights, spinal curvature, or anything else. I just chose the hips because they are an easy landmark to palpate, they are far away from the tongue, and subtle changes are amplified there. 

Other Thoughts

I have seen something similar that is based more on muscle testing. This method that I have described is not muscle testing. What happens is more accurately described by the concept of biotensegrity. The fascial system of the body helps the musculoskeletal system distribute weight and maintain posture. 

Changes in any part of the body then affect the whole. So the changes are a real-time fascial redistribution of the body. In a future article, I will discuss the anatomy that is likely changing that is causing these changes. 

If you want to be notified, sign up to get emails on this topic above. 

For those who want to understand the role the tongue plays in their body better, I have recorded a guided meditation to explore not just the inherent motion in the tongue, but how it is connected to the rest of the body. Grab your copy by clicking here.

Meditation taking on journey exploring the tongue's inherent motion and it's effect on the rest of the body

You may also find a previous post about inherent tongue motion and how it helps affect craniofacial development.

Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Author Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Daniel Lopez, D.O. grew up with a lot of pain trying many things that did not help. Realizing that if he could not help himself, he would be unable to help others effectively, he dedicated himself to finding real answers. Since that time, Dr. Lopez has found a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more. Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine. Prior to that he had a private practice in NYC for 6 years. He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.

More posts by Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Leave a Reply