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 Growing Well

 How well we grow reflects how well we function

The number of ways our bodies grow and develop are amazing.

The first years of life our brains lay down millions of new pathways.
The quality of the connections between our brain and our body, via our nervous system, controls how well we learn all the activities that help us function through our whole life. We learn to move and control our body, to find our balance, to suck, chew, swallow, to roll, crawl, walk, run and speak, think and remember.

All this happens while we grow in size, getting bigger, stronger and more comfortable in ourselves.

To grow well, a body needs good balance and coordination, with a body that stands tall, with a clear and open airway. It isn’t just our arms and legs that grow and develop.

Our face’s growth is not just down to our genes. It is largely determined by the different ways our face’s muscles pull or push on it’s bones as we breathe, chew, swallow, and speak.

By the age of 4, 60% of our faces growth has happened. By the age of 9, it’s 90% complete.

This means we have a wonderful window of opportunity to optimise how our face muscles work to optimise how well our face grows.

We breathe between 16,000 and 20,000 times a day. We swallow around 2000 times a day. Because of their frequency, how we breathe and how we swallow have a big effect on how our face forms.

How we do both, can both create and demonstrate problems in how we are growing.

A beautiful smile, with plenty of room for all our adult teeth to grow into, well formed cheekbones, bright eyes and the ability to breathe through our nose with our lips resting gently together, are all good signs of a face that is growing well.

The muscles that need to be in balance to help that happen include the ones in our tongue, lips and cheeks.

Mouth breathing, with your tongue sitting on the floor of your mouth are both signs that your face is not growing optimally.

Your tongue makes the biggest contribution to stimulating the growth of your face. To grow as well as it should, when you breathe, your tongue should rest in the roof of your mouth, your lips should be gently closed, your breathing should happen quietly through your nose and your diaphragm should be the muscle drawing the air into your body.

When you swallow you should not see any movement around your lips, chin, cheeks or neck. Your tongue pushing gently into the roof of your mouth as you swallow stimulates your upper jaw bone to grow forward and out, making lots of lovely room for your teeth to sit comfortably together, creating a beautiful smile without crowding.

The roof of your mouth is also the floor of your nose. When your tongue stimulates the growth of your upper jaw, it is also helping you have the most fully open best sized airway, allowing air to flow freely and easily into your body.

Your body’s posture will affect it’s ability to swallow with your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth.

You can feel the difference your posture makes to your swallow yourself. Sit or stand tall, with your head over your shoulders and swallow with your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Then move your head forwards and again, try to swallow with your tongue up.

Habitually holding your head forward, where your head sits forward of, instead of over your shoulders, makes swallowing with your tongue up really uncomfortable. This means your tongue will rest or move to somewhere else. It will either sit on the floor of your mouth or push out, either between your teeth to the side or against your front teeth. This then happens for all of your 2000 swallows. If you can’t swallow comfortably with your tongue up, it will not rest there in the time between swallows either. That’s all day every day.

Having low tongue posture almost always leads to mouth breathing with all of its issues.

There are structural, functional and survival things that can cause you to hold your head forwards. They can start at your head and move down, at your feet and move up or be a combination of both.

Happy feet are ones that have a well developed arch. When looked at from behind, we want the back of your foot to be in a neutral position, with your achilles tendon in a straight line without a kink.

We want both your feet to point straight ahead, and we don’t want to see any abnormal wear patterns producing bunions, callouses or corns.

To feel the effect your feet have on your body’s posture, stand with your hands on your hips, and let the arches of both your feet fall in.  When you do this you will feel your pelvis tilt forwards. To compensate for this your body will move your chest and shoulders to lean slightly backwards and it will then bring your head into a relatively forward position, where your ears rest forward of your shoulders. If you then pick your arches back up you will feel your pelvis tilt back, your shoulders move back forward and your head return to its correct position.

Some people may need to see a podiatrist for orthotics to help prevent feet up causes of forward head posture.

Forward head posture that starts at your head can be due to how you’re made, how your body works, and what it has to do to keep breathing.. Its all connected.

Issues with how you’re made can come from before you are born or changes can grow over time. Tongue ties are an example how you’re made, where tightness in the fascia that runs from your tongue to your toes can hold your head forwards. Nasal polyps that restrict your body’s ability to breathe through your nose are another example of something growing. These issues that reflect a structural cause may need to be referred to enable their removal.

How well your body works affects your body’s posture. Pain, poor coordination and sitting in bad postures can all impact the posture you move or live in the most.

How well your body breathes will also change your posture. Your airway can be narrowed because of allergies, infections, poor drainage of your lymph system and trauma. All of these things can make you hold your head forwards to keep you alive.