Tense jaw muscles occur for many reasons. Some people unconsciously clench their jaws during times of stress or tension, while others suffer from conditions known as TMJ disorders, disorders of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ disorders occur mainly because of teeth grinding or clenching your jaw, jaw injury and arthritis. Certain exercises can help alleviate some of your symptoms by relaxing your jaw muscles.
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Progressive Relaxation for the Jaw
The progressive relaxation exercise helps alleviate overcontraction of your jaw muscles. 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. Finally, clench your jaw as tightly as possible, then relax your jaw muscles completely.
This exercise helps to fully stretch your masticatory muscles, the muscles in your jaw responsible for chewing and grinding. 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. 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. 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.