The following exercises and associated videos are only to be used under the explicit guidance of your physician or speech-language pathologist (SLP). You must consult your physician or medical specialist before using these exercises. If you feel pain or experience unusual symptoms while performing any of these exercises, stop the exercise immediately and consult your medical team before any further use. Read and understand all instructions carefully before using.
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.
A two page PDF available in both English and Spanish are available by clicking the link below. These can be printed by your clinician to allow them to customize your swallowing exercise routine.
This information (instruction and videos), unless otherwise noted, have been provided to the NFOSD by the UC Davis Health System, Department of Otolaryngology and Nancy Swigert, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, F-ASHA and colleagues. The material is copyrighted. All rights associated with this copyrighted material will be enforced. It is being made available free of charge to all physicians and speech language pathologists to be used by their patients.
1. Effortful Swallow: Collect all the saliva in your mouth onto the center 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. Click here for Video.
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. Click here for Video. The number of repetitions and sets are patient specific.
3. Isometric (static) Shaker: Click here for Video. The length of each repetition and the number of repetitions is set by your clinician. Rest for one minute between repetitions.
4. Jaw Thrust: Move your lower jaw as far forward as you can. Your lower teeth should be in front of your upper teeth. Click here for Video. 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.
5. Lollipop Swallowing: Click here for Video. 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.
6. Masako Maneuver: 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. Click here for Video. The number of repetitions is patient specific.
7. Mendelsohn Maneuver: 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). Click here for Video. The length of time for each repetition and number of repetitions is patient specific.
8. Yawn: The goal of this exercise is to increase the strength of the back of the tongue and throat muscles. Yawn and when you get into a big stretch, hold that position for as long as indicated. Click here for Video.
9. Supraglottic Maneuver: 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. Click here for Video. The number of repetitions is patient specific.
10. Tongue Strength Exercise: Using a tongue depressor, press the tip of your tongue out against the tongue depressor. Put the tongue depressor on the tip of your tongue and push up. To exercise the middle part of your tongue, put the tongue depressor towards the middle of your tongue and push up against the roof of your mouth. To exercise the back of the tongue, say the “k” sound, then put the tongue depressor on the spot of the tongue that made contact with the roof of your mouth and push up. Next, sweep the tip of your tongue from the very front of your mouth to the back along the roof of your mouth. Lastly, lateralize your tongue from one corner of your mouth to the other. The number of repetitions is patient specific. Click here for Video.
11. Tongue Range of Motion: First, stick your tongue out as far as possible and hold as instructed. Then pull the tongue back into the mouth as far as you can. Then, lateralize the tongue tip to one corner of your mouth and hold. Then switch to the opposite side and hold. Lastly, open your mouth put your tongue tip behind your top teeth and hold the stretch. The number of sets is patient specific. Click here for Video.
12. Tongue Retraction Exercise: Don’t use the tip of your tongue. Instead, pull the back of your tongue as far into the mouth as you can and hold. Click here for Video.
13. Effortful Pitch Glide: 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. Click here for Video.
14. Lip Range of Motion: Pull your lips into a smile and hold the stretch. Next, open your jaw wide and then stretch your lips into a smile and hold. Click here for Video.
In addition to the swallowing exercises above, there are also devices on the market designed to help improve the swallow function. The link below will direct you to information on devices that can be used in conjunction with the exercises above. We provide this information to empower the patient. Please consult with your medical professional as this type of treatment may not be right for you:.