Oral Swallowing Exercises

Your physician or speech language pathologist will select which exercises are useful to improving your swallowing function. If an exercise is not selected, do not attempt it without consulting your medical team. They will develop a program customized and unique to the needs of each patient. This includes the number of repetitions, the number of seconds each exercise should be performed, and the rest period between exercises.

1. Effortful Swallow: Collect all the saliva in your mouth onto the centre of your tongue. Keep your lips closed and tight together. Pretend you are swallowing a grape whole in one big, hard swallow. The number of repetitions is patient specific.

2. Isokinetic (dynamic) Shaker: The number of repetitions defined by your clinician is considered a set. You should perform the set twice (resting briefly between each set). You should then rest for two minutes and then repeat this exercise as many times as directed by your clinician. Ignore the number of repetitions and sets as directed in the video. The number of repetitions and sets are patient specific.

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3. Isometric (static) Shaker: The length of each repetition and the number of repetitions is set by your clinician. Rest for one minute between repetitions.

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4. Jaw Thrust: Move your lower jaw as far forward as you can. Your lower teeth should be in front of your upper teeth. Note, patients with jaw replacement should use extra caution before performing this exercise so as not to stress the jaw bone. The length of time for each repetition and number of repetitions is patient specific.

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5. Lollipop Swallowing: Place a sugarless lollipop in your mouth and lick. Lick three times and then do an effortful swallow with your lips firmly pressed together. Swallow as hard as you can. The number of repetitions is patient specific.

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6. Masako Manoeuvre: Stick your tongue out of your mouth between your front teeth and gently bite down to hold it in place. Swallow while keeping your tongue gently between your teeth. You can let go of your tongue between swallows and repeat. The number of repetitions is patient specific.

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7. Mendelsohn Manoeuvre: Place your middle three fingers (index, middle, ring) on your Adam’s Apple (the skin in front of your neck beneath your chin). Swallow once to practice. Feel your Adams Apple slide upward as you swallow. Now, swallow again and when your Adam’s Apple gets to its highest position in the throat, squeeze your throat muscles and hold it as high as you can for as long as your clinician has directed for this exercise (or as long as you can if you can’t hold it for this length of time). The length of time for each repetition and number of repetitions is patient specific.

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8. Supraglottic Manoeuvre: Perform this exercise if and only if directed by your clinician. Your clinician should also provide direction as to the position of your head (tucked, right, left, straight). Collect a small bit of saliva in mouth. Take a deep breath and hold your breath (if the vocal folds are not closed then try to inhale and say ah, turn off your voice and hold your breath). Keep holding your breath while you swallow. Immediately after you swallow, cough. Practice with saliva prior to food or liquid. The number of repetitions is patient specific.

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9. Tongue Exercise (Part A): Stick your tongue out as far as possible. Hold it steady in that position for the length of time directed by your clinician. Try to stick your tongue out slightly farther after each attempt.

10. Tongue Range of Motion (Part B): Hold your chin firmly in your right or left hand and slowly stick your tongue as far towards the corner of your mouth as you can. Move is as far to the right side as possible without moving your chin. Keeping your tongue protruded, move it slowly to the left side and alternates the right and left side 5 times. This is considered one set. The number of sets is patient specific.

11. Vocal Exercise: Say “eee” in as low a pitch as possible and then gradually raise the pitch of your voice until the highest tone possible. Hold this tone for the length of time directed by your clinician.


Ed Steger, Dr. Peter Belafs


National Foundation of Swallowing Disorder, NFOSD



Body Posture Depends on Teeth

Why teeth are so important for the posture? The skull is the heaviest part of our body and it is supported at the top, on the last cervical vertebra (atlas). To ensure that our head, which weighs on average 4 kg, remains at the top with the least expenditure of energy, Mother Nature has devised a very ingenious “bio-mechanical system of levers”.

The question that we must ask is: “What or who is holding the skull on the last cervical vertebra?”

Until a few decades ago people believed that the skull was simply supported by the neck muscles operated by our willingness to stand upright. Over time and with the birth of gnathology science, clinical trials have shown a functional-anatomic and physiopathological link between skull-mandible (CMD) and skull-cervical dysfunctions, aggregating various areas of the body in a single tonic-postural system: the skull-cervical-mandible joint.

In short, scientific literature, or rather some pioneers in this new sector, has started to understand the role of the mandible in the human postural system, and that consequently neck and back problems are caused by skull-cervical-mandible disorders.

Having established that, we can realize that in this bio-mechanism that keeps sustained our head on top of the first cervical vertebra, the “jaw” has a vital role in supporting the skull.

It is a matter of fact that these medical-science pioneers have managed to understand, more or less, the bio-mechanism and how to act on it with the use of a bite in order to alleviate people health problems, but they have always proceeded by trial and error without ever being able to develop a proper relationship between correct body posture, jaw and teeth.

Despite this important scientific progress, no one has yet managed to truly solve the classic postural problems (scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis). In fact, these scientists have been trying to test many different roads for years, in order to solve these problems. They have tried the most diverse methods, yet none of these have really focused on the issue. That is why this matter is still more of academic than practical interest. Even some gnathologists assert that there is no proof of any relationship between occlusion and posture due to a lack of convincing scientific evidence.

You can solve a postural problem only if you know “precisely” how the bio-mechanism works and therefore the exact relationship between teeth, occlusion and posture.


The First Method to Balance Your Body