Updated: Jan 11
4 Simple Exercises to Help Reduce Tongue Tension
I got inspired to write this post back in 2018 when a client of mine came up with a great idea for holding out her tongue whilst working on a reducing tongue tension exercise. On the above photo, she’s using a silicone oven glove! Genius! Right? Well, it definitely beats using tissue that falls apart on the tongue!
Can you guess what the strongest muscle in the body is?
Well, you might be surprised to find that the tongue is considered to be one of the strongest muscles in the body in relation to its size!
Try this: to get an idea of just how strong your tongue is, pin your pinkie finger to the roof of your mouth with your tongue, then let your pinkie fight back down against your tongue. (It’s a tongue vs. pinkie war!) My pinkie loses every time!
You may also be surprised to know that one of the common problems vocalists deal with is tongue tension (read this blog post to find out why this and other vocal issues arise).
So, what do you know about tongue tension?
Here’s what you should know about tongue tension.
The tongue plays a huge role when it comes to articulation of all kinds of sounds.
So having a relaxed tongue that moves quickly and efficiently while vocalizing is what we need.
Here’s how tongue tension affects the voice.
The tongue, via the hyoid bone, is connected to the larynx (our sound maker).
Any tension in the tongue is going to limit movement in the larynx and cause constriction while singing.
You definitely don’t want this.
Tongue tension can directly affect the tonal quality of our voices, our ability to sing high notes, and our ability to accurately pitch.
How to spot potential signs of tongue tension.
Here are a few ways to help you spot potential signs of tongue tension.
● If you a have muffled and/or dark sound to your voice
● If vocalizing begins to take more effort
● If you have the tendency to sing flat
● If you’re experiencing a loss of vocal range
● If you’re having difficulty articulating
Remember: With anything voice-related, if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, get booked in with a good vocal coach/voice teacher who can help diagnose tongue tension and help you work through it.
But for now, I have a few little exercises to help reduce tongue tension (for more vocal exercises, check out this vlog).
Exercises to Reduce Tongue Tension
1. Tongue push outs.
Time to give that tongue a stretching!
1. Keep the tip of your tongue behind the back of your bottom front row teeth.
2. Stick out the middle of the tongue (aim to form a U shape outside of the mouth).
3. Stretch the middle of your tongue out as much as possible.
2. Brushing your teeth with your tongue.
This one is all about giving the tongue another good stretch!
1. Circle your tongue around your gums (kind of like you’re trying to get peanut butter or chocolate from your gums).
2. Go five times in both directions with this exercise.
We’re going to get the tongue moving with this one!
1. Simply say: “TI-KA-TI-KA”. This will articulate the tongue towards the front of the mouth with the T, and then towards the back of the mouth with the K.
2. Ensure that your diction remains clear throughout.
3. You can also try it low on a 3-tone scale (be sure to keep it within chest voice territory).
Again, we are encouraging some good tongue movement and stimulating flexibility with this one!
1. Say: “GLA-GLA-GLA-GLA”.
2. Ensure that your diction remains clear throughout and that your jaw stays loose.
3. Try speeding it up on 3 tone-scale, keeping it generally low.
Wrapping it up.
There are many different exercises that can help reduce tongue tension. These are just a few to get you started.
You can find some more exercises and singing tips in this blog post.
If you need help with reducing tongue tension and you’re interested in booking a cheeky vocal session with me, you can book online here. Sessions are available online and in person. You can also view my rates here.
And, as always, if you have any questions, send them through. I’m always happy to help!
That’s it from me! Peace out!
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This article was originally published on September 1, 2018 and has been updated.