YOUR TONGUE, FRIEND OR ENEMY?
Joy Sikorski - March 23, 2007 (all graphics used in this article are in the public domain and published online at Bartleby.com)
Your tongue is either your best friend or your worst enemy.
Look at the picture below and notice how large this muscle is, where it's located and how far it extends into the back of the throat.
Now look at the notes and arrows (representing sound) and notice how the sound moves up into the naso-pharynx area and is aimed at both the hard palate (not the soft palate) and the cartilage in the nose.
Tongue and Epiglottis
The next picture shows a view of the tongue from the back. Notice the muscles that surround it and the epiglottis. This is the flap of tissue that closes when you swallow so that food or water won't get into your trachea or lungs when it goes down the esophagus. If you have a tight tongue that pulls back in the mouth, it will push against the epiglottis, forcing it down, which muffles the sound.
Neck Muscles and Your Tongue
Remember that your neck muscles need to stay relaxed because any tension in your neck will affect the way you use your tongue.
Tense up your shoulders and neck muscles and notice how the tension affects your tongue muscle. Relax and let go of the tension. Now let your tongue rest over your bottom teeth, allowing them to lightly touch the inside of your lower lip. Take deep breaths without raising your shoulders and keep your tongue relaxed and in the position mentioned above. Repeat this in front of a mirror as often as you can, watching to make sure you don't raise your shoulders or tense your tongue.