Swallowing: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of exercises for you to try. The exercises may be suggested for a condition or for rehabilitation. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercises if you start to have pain. If you need to swallow for an exercise, use saliva, not food or drinks.

You will be told when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you. Only do the exercises that your doctor or speech therapist tells you to do. Follow their instructions carefully.

The exercises will help train your muscles and nerves to swallow so your food doesn't go down the wrong way. They can also help you speak better. Your doctor or speech therapist will tell you how often to do the exercises and how many times you should repeat each one.

Shaker exercise

How to do the Shaker exercise

There are two ways to do this exercise. Your doctor or speech therapist may have you do one or both.

  1. Lie down on your back on the floor or a firm mattress.
  2. Keep your shoulders flat.

    Don't lift your shoulders.

  3. Bend your head forward so that your chin tucks.

    Try to see your toes.

  4. Hold the position as your doctor or speech therapist directs.

    You can either:

    • Hold this position for 1 minute, and then lower your head and rest for 1 minute.
    • Or hold this position for 1 minute, and then lower your head and go on to the next repetition.
  5. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Supraglottic exercise

  1. Sit or stand comfortably.
  2. Take a deep breath and hold it.
  3. Swallow while holding your breath.
  4. Cough gently.
  5. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Super supraglottic exercise

  1. Sit or stand comfortably.
  2. Take a deep breath, and hold it while "bearing down" (like having a bowel movement).
  3. Swallow while you hold your breath.
  4. Cough gently.
  5. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Masako maneuver

How to do the Masako maneuver
  1. Sit or stand comfortably.
  2. Stick your tongue out as far as is comfortable.
  3. Hold your tongue gently between your front teeth, and then swallow.
  4. Let go of your tongue.
  5. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Mendelsohn maneuver

How to do the Mendelsohn maneuver
  1. Sit or stand comfortably.
  2. Start to swallow normally.
  3. When your Adam's apple is at its highest point, squeeze your throat muscles to hold it in that position for 3 counts, and then relax.

    You can use your fingers to help you hold your Adam's apple at its highest point.

  4. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Effortful swallow exercise

  1. Sit or stand comfortably.
  2. Squeeze your throat muscles as hard as you can, and then swallow.

    Imagine that you have a grape-sized piece of food stuck at the back of your throat, and try to swallow it.

  3. Repeat these steps as many times as directed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.