The Neck and Jaw Exercises

woman sitting holding a cold pack on her neck
Woman holding ice pack to sore neck. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The neck and jaw muscles are subject to tension daily, especially if you use a computer all day long or if you routinely carry a heavy load from your neck or shoulders. Neck and jaw exercises firm, tone and relax the muscles in your head and neck. Use a series of isometric, resistance and yoga exercises to firm, tone and release the tension in your neck and jaw area.

Trapezius lift

The trapezius is a major neck muscle that holds the head upright. Trapezius lifts -- or shoulder shrugs -- with handheld weights are designed to work your trapezius. Trapezius lifts tone and strengthen the muscles. Start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your side. Hold dumbbells with your palms facing forward and raise your shoulders toward the ears. Hold the lift for one or two seconds and then release. Do three sets of 15 repetitions each. Trapezius lifts can also be done while sitting at a desk, without using weights.

Bumblebees

Bumblebees exercise the jaw muscles. Inhale through the nose, and make chewing motions while vibrating the sound "mmmm" through the nose as you chew. Any sound can be used, or even gibberish. Chewing gum or pretending to chew gum can be used instead of doing bumblebees.

Tongue Reach

This is a yoga exercise for the neck. It firms and tones the skin directly under the chin. Stick out your tongue, and say "Ahhhhh." Hold your tongue out while keeping the rest of your face relaxed -- hold for 60 seconds.

Lower Face Lift

The muscles under the chin are connected to the jaw muscles, and they work together. A lower face lift exercise targets the lower jaw. Start in a seated position -- keep your spine erect and your abdominal muscles tight. Open your mouth wide, and roll your lips over the teeth, pulling the corners of the mouth toward the back teeth. Look upward, and smile. Place the index fingers at the tops of your ears, and, while using light pressure, push your face forward and your shoulders back. Hold for 30 seconds.

Kiss the Ceiling

This exercise works the jaw and neck and can be done standing or sitting. Hold your arms at your sides, tilt your head back slightly -- your head should not be parallel with the ceiling -- pucker your lips, and try to "kiss" the ceiling. The muscles in the jaw and neck tighten and stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat five times.

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