Jaw muscles get tense for different reasons. For some people, they unconsciously clench and grind their teeth, causing stress, tension and jaw pain. Others, however, suffer from TMJ disorders.
Disorders of the temporomandibular joint also occur mainly because of teeth grinding or clenching the jaw, as well as injury and arthritis.
The good news?
Certain exercises can help alleviate symptoms of an aching jaw. Here are the best ones to relax jaw muscles.
The progressive relaxation exercise helps alleviate over-contraction of your jaw muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Clench your jaw as tightly as possible for a few seconds, then allow your jaw to fall open. Press your hand underneath your chin to provide gentle resistance as you open your jaw, then relax your jaw again. Now move your jaw to the right, then relax. Move your jaw to the left, then relax.
This exercise helps to fully stretch your masticatory muscles, the muscles in your jaw responsible for chewing and grinding.
HOW TO DO IT: Massage your jaw muscles with your fingertips using small, circular motions. Now open your mouth as wide as you can without pain or discomfort. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then release and relax your jaw. Perform 10 repetitions.
This helps relax your jaw, shoulder and facial muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit in a comfortable chair and focus on your breathing. Take a slow, deep inhalation through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Close your mouth and press your tongue firmly on the roof of your mouth. Relax your tongue. Clench your jaw muscles tightly for a few seconds, then relax. Scrunch your face into an expression that resembles the expression you have when tasting something sour. Relax. Finally, lift your shoulders up to your ears, holding the contraction for a few seconds, then relax completely. Sit for a few moments as you focus on your breath.
The yawn-sigh exercise relaxes your throat, jaw, face and body.
HOW TO DO IT: Take a deep yawn as you open your mouth as widely as possible. Stretch your jaw muscles and tighten your shoulders and arms as you inhale. Slowly exhale and relax all of your muscles completely. Perform this exercise several times.
Neck Stretches for TMJ
And finally, Pasadena Pain Management also instructs patients on neck stretches for TMJ relief.