Isometric exercises --- those in which your muscles contract without lengthening or shortening --- can be used even in your face, helping to strengthen the muscles used to make facial expressions, help you eat, and help you speak. And while your facial muscles are not as visible as your biceps, for example, they do help tear up and crush your food --- so you have the energy to work your bigger muscles. One warning, via Paul E. Luebbers, in a 2005 article published on the American College of Sports Medicine's Fit Society Page: You must relax your face and jaw muscles to prevent your neck from tensing up.
Eyebrow squeezes, or wrinkling your forehead by drawing your eyebrows toward each other, work the forehead portion of your frontalis muscle. This muscle originates on the bone at the back of your head, and curves around the tissues of your eyebrows. Squeeze your eyebrows, holding the contraction for five seconds.
Raise and hold your eyebrows in a look of surprise. Eyebrow raises activate your corrugator supercilii muscle, which originates on the front of your skull bone and is inserted under the skin around your eyebrows.
Opening your mouth as wide as you can --- so a dentist or hygienist can get to your molars, for example --- is a function of your platysma muscle. The platysma rises from your chest and shoulder muscles, runs along your neck then inserts on your jaw bone, or mandible. Open your mouth in an "oh my gosh" expression, and hold for five seconds.
Think happy thoughts, and smile for at least 10 seconds, and as long as 30. Your buccinator and zygomaticus major muscles are responsible for this action. The buccinator muscle draws your lips toward the sides of your cheeks; the zygomaticus major raises the corners of your lips toward your ears.
Squeeze your lips together and pucker up to engage your buccinator and orbicularis oris muscles. Playing the trumpet, for example, gives your buccinator muscles quite a workout. The buccinators originate on your upper jaw bone, then insert under the skin at the sides of your mouth. The obicularis oris encircles your mouth.
Closing your eyes shut is made possible by your orbicularis oculi, the muscle encircling the eyelids. Tightly squint and close your eyes for five seconds to contract your orbicularis ocui.
Your tongue is a solid mass of skeletal muscle. The muscles of your tongue originate on the bones around your mouth. Aside from its role in chewing, swallowing and licking, you can certainly get a chuckle now and then from sticking your tongue out at an unsuspecting friend. Hold this tongue protrusion for 10 seconds.
- "Anatomy & Physiology"; Gary Thibodeau, Ph.D. and Kevin Patton, Ph.D.; 2007
- "Fit Society Page": Running and Walking Form; Paul E. Luebbers, Ph.D.; Summer 2005