You may have already seen our jaw releases, which can be very helpful to relieve tension in the jaw and give quite immediate relief. There are additional TMJ exercises for motor control and strength that your physiotherapist may give you. These TMJ exercises can help to reduce likelihood of the jaw muscles tightening back up and to provide ongoing relief from your jaw muscle/joint pain.
TMJ Exercises: Resting jaw position
If we have a tendency to habitually hold tension in our jaw (whether it be the result of postures, habits, or stress), we want to break this cycle! It can take a lot of practice and repetition to form a new habit, so we want to be able to practice this regularly. Here is a TMJ exercises to help relax the jaw.
It can be helpful to become more conscious of the tension we hold in our jaw throughout the day. See if you can notice patterns of when you tighten through your jaw. It might be when at work, driving, or just the end of the day. For best effects, these activities/time of day can be the best place to start practicing your relaxed jaw position.
Specifically, this looks like:
· Tongue resting on the roof of your mouth, behind your top teeth
· Bottom jaw should feel “heavy.” Teeth should not be touching, but lips will be closed (or only resting slightly apart)
It can also feel nice for your hands to rest on the side of the face, hanging down to help the jaw feel heavy and relaxed.
TMJ Exercises: Mindful practice with opening/closing of jaw
Feel TMJ with fingertips (just in front of ears) – if you open/close your mouth you should feel the joint moving under your fingers.
Slowly start to open mouth comfortably (stopping before any clicking occurs). Focus on keeping the joints centred through opening, then closing your mouth
Jaw stability exercises and strength exercises
Jaws don’t just open and close. They also move side-to-side and forward-and-backwards.
We want to be able to activate and strengthen the muscles responsible for these movements. Use your fingers to push against the jaw in different positions, and not push your jaw out of the resting jaw position we just learnt.
You will move hands around:
· Bottom of the chin, trying to force teeth together
· Hooking over chin, trying to open jaw further
· Either side of the jaw, trying to push jaw to the side
· Front of the chin, trying to push jaw back
Each position can be resisted for 5-10 seconds to help promote muscle activity around the jaw joint.
If you want to learn more about TMJ Exercises please book in to see one of our Barefoot physiotherapists via the link.