Activities to avoid and change,
Strategies for quick relief,
Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…
Activities To Avoid or Change:
Avoid vigorous or uneven or unusual jaw activity, like crunching ice, busting popcorn kernels, or chewing on toothpicks. Taffy, excessive gum chewing are also problematic.
When this is a result of clenching during sleep, mouth guards are a great temporary solution. In the long term, they should not be needed when the TMJ is properly balanced.
Clenching during weight-lifting or heavy work should be avoided. A mouthguard can be used as a reminder when it is not easily stopped voluntarily.
For Temporary Relief:
A little gentle pressure while opening your mouth to stretch can offer great relief here. I’ve done that many times when it is bothering me.
Feel for the lower edge of the cheek bone. About half-way along the bottom of that ridge, where the green asterisk is, you will find a spot that is more tender. Gentle apply a small amount of pressure. after a few seconds, it will begin to soften and become less tender. Open your jaw as the tenderness releases.
Don’t be too aggressive with the pressure or the stretch as you may aggravate this and make it a bit more intense. If that happens, try the stretches below.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. Some pain needs to be addressed by a professional. Some pain is not myofascial. You may employ these strategies improperly. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.
Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:
These stretches are simple and usually offer quick relief, especially when used with ice-and-stretch.
For more complete, longer-lasting relief, precede this by stretching the upper neck with The Box. It can be hard to balance the TMJ when the base of the head is not properly balanced on the upper neck.
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The first line of defense against a painful TMJ is to focus on yoga poses that better balance your head on your neck by offering stretching, and strengthening of the neck. This involves poses where you twist and/or tilt, like Warrior I. Also, poses where your head is suspended in space like planks.
This post from yogainternational.com has a number of neck balancing poses and this series of jaw-dropping poses. I feel
happier, sillier, clownier, like a little bird, better just looking at the pics. To be truthful, this series is more intense than this pic suggests. It has a fairly rigorous approach including neck stretches using a strap and exercises while supporting your neck with a roll yoga mat. It’s worth taking a look.
Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…
This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.
*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.