Speech and How it Relates to Muscle Control

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

Over the years there have been research articles linking speech and voice production to gross motor development and control. Cut the fancy lingo and what do you have? Speech production is linked to physical strength and milestone achievement! How? Well, let’s explain…

So to understand the correlation, you first have to understand two different muscle contraction types.

  1. Concentric Contraction: This means that the muscle is shortening when it contracts (against resistance) to build strength. Easiest example of this is picturing a bicep curl – your bicep muscle shortens as you bring the weight up to build strength/force.
  2. Eccentric Contraction: During these contractions, your muscle is lengthening while producing force. Just take that bicep example above and the eccentric contraction is when you slowly lower the weight back down aka “putting on the brakes”.

Do we have those down? Okay good. Now you’re probably asking why do you need to know that for knowing how speech relates to gross motor skills.

Wellllllll….the evidence states that voice production requires ECCENTRIC muscle control. Your vocal folds must be able to control the air flow to produce sound. Doing activities that strengthen the extremities, neck muscles, and core actually increases the stability of your voice control! This is often why sometimes you hear new sounds from your child if they have achieved a gross motor task (i.e. sitting by themselves)!

Pretty cool, right? Well I always knew there was some evidence for it but when you get to see it in the clinic too as someone makes progress, it makes it even better!

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Christine Astarita
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