Ok so here’s a cool one! This is a study looking at tongue position and force outputs on a leg extension. Now really stop for a second and think about that. I said tongue position with respect to knee extension. Both of these systems are far from each other in the body, so let this all serve as good proof that the whole body works as a complex system rather than just a bunch of separate parts.
What they found in this study was that the UP position, meaning your tongue is across the roof of your mouth, showed better output than the two other tongue positions. I encourage you to read through the study to find out what the other two positions were!
Not only is this a pretty surprising find, it also opens up a whole bag of worms. This is now a potential reason for statistical error in all studies looking at leg extensions. This means that if a test subject in a previous study happened to have the “proper” tongue position then they would skew the data in the study they are part of. What this also means is that maybe by simply adopting a better tongue position in your training, that your force output will go up…
“I just set a new PR because of my tongue position,” does sound pretty funny though doesn’t it?
So but why does this even work though?… Here’s a quick anatomy lesson as to why! Your tongue is the only muscle in the body that only attaches at one side. Every other muscle has an origin and insertion. Your tongue attaches at the base to a bone called your Hyoid Bone. There are stabilizers of the neck that attach to essentially the other side of this bone.
Check out those muscles here
When your tongue is “free floating,” or really any time it’s not pressed against some part of your mouth then the Hyoid bone is also free to move around. When the Hyoid is able to brace itself on the tongue side, then it makes it easier for the muscles downstream of the Hyoid to give support to the neck. When the neck feels stable, your spine feels more stable. When your spine feels more stable, you can generate force off of it much better!
So this tongue position will work for FAR MORE than just some leg extensions! So on your next workout, give it a try. Put your tongue into the position from the study and see if you, “feel stronger.”
If it works for you I would love to hear about it! leave a comment!
The study can be found here