Specificity of Training in the Lingual Musculature: Preliminary Findings

H Clark, W Barber, W Irwin


The principle of specificity of training, well-documented in the limb literature, arose from the observation that performance improvements gained during training are typically observed only during tasks closely matching the trained behavior. The current study was conducted to determine whether this principle extends to training of the lingual musculature. Four groups of adult participants without history of speech or swallowing difficulty completed four weeks of tongue exercises targeting strength, isotonic endurance, power, or speed. A control group did no exercise. Measures of strength, isotonic endurance, isometric endurance, power, and speed were obtained before and after training. Specificity of training was observed for the performance variables of strength, isotonic endurance, and power. Performance on measures of isometric endurance and speed was unchanged for all groups. These preliminary findings suggest that the principle of specificity of training does apply to at least some lingual training tasks, indicating that intervention activities intended to improve speech and/or swallowing function should closely match the movement characteristics of speech and/or swallowing.