I want to share my love of the hyoid muscles. I travel and teach a lot and often suffer from throat and voice problems. After many trips to the doctor as well as throat lozenges and medication, I realised it was because of muscle tension in my neck and throat. These muscles had a big part to play in it.

The root of the tongue connects to the hyoid bone and the supra and infra hyoids elevate and depress the hyoid bone. The supra hyoids and infra hyoids are considered secondary muscles of mastication and play an important role in swallowing as well as depression of the mandible, movement of the tongue and speaking. These muscles can affect the ability to relax your throat and voice projection.

The infrahyoid muscles stabilise the hyoid bone so that the suprahyoid muscles have a firm base to assist with depression of the mandible. The infra hyoids are located below the hyoid bone and consist of the sternohyoid, omohyoid, sternothyroid and thyrohyoid.

The supra hyoids consist of four muscles located above the hyoid bone.

They are:

  • digastric,
  • stylohyoid,
  • geniohyoid and
  • mylohyoid.

Mylohyoid is a paired muscle running from the mandible to the hyoid bone, forming a musculature diaphragm for the floor of the mouth. Mylo is the greek word for molar, and it is named because of its attachment near the molar teeth. When you swallow, it helps raise the floor of the mouth. From above the floor of the mouth is reinforced by the geniohyoid.

Gently place two fingers under your chin between your chin and your hyoid bone, move slightly lateral to the midline and swallow. You will feel the mylohyoid as it elevates the floor of the mouth and the hyoid bone

Tension in the hyoids can contribute to:
  • TMJ Pain and clicking in the jaw
  • a sensation of a lump in the throat when swallowing
  • forward head posture
  • the feeling of a rough or hoarse voice
  • difficulty projecting your voice
  • general vocal exhaustion

In manual therapy the hyoids have to be treated with tender loving care, using the lightest pressure and your clients movement. Get familiar with the hyoid muscles and don’t be surprised if your clients report a change in their voice afterwards.