Pain and discomfort is something that you must learn to manage when you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Thankfully, there are plenty of exercises that you can do daily to get relief from neck and jaw pain.
TMJ Jaw Stretches
Exercising your jaw muscles is a great way to strengthen your jaw muscles to facilitate proper movement without causing pain. You can do these jaw stretches twice a day or as often as desired, depending on the extent of the pain and how much work the muscles need. When you perform these exercises on one side of the jaw, make sure to repeat the same process on the other side of your jaw.
- Open your mouth as wide as you can without feeling any pain. Use your right hand to push against one side of your jaw. Push it gently and hold the position for 10 seconds. When you are finished do it on the other side of your jaw.
- Find the hinge of your jaw. Once you identify where that is, use your finger to massage and stretch the muscles around your jaw area. Use a downward motion when doing your stretching exercise.
- Use your thumb to press against the center of your chin’s bottom area. Open your mouth slowly while keeping your thumb pressed against your chin. Apply gentle pressure only to facilitate light stretching on the jaw muscles as you open your mouth. Hold this position for up to 6 seconds and do this for as many repetitions as desired.
- This is the simplest exercise you can perform to stretch your jaw muscles – open and close your mouth repeatedly and keep it as wide as you possibly can. Every time you open your mouth again, try to make it wider than the last time.
TMJ Neck Stretches
Your neck muscles are connected to your TMJ so it is common to feel pain in your neck when you suffer from TMJ disorders. But you can remedy the pain you are feeling by performing a few basic stretching exercises that target your neck muscles specifically.
Try these exercises to stretch your neck muscles and get the relief you deserve.
- Head tilting is one of the easiest ways to relieve TMJ neck pain. While seated and maintaining a straight spine, reach your right arm over towards your left ear and pushing it against your shoulder. Keep a straight posture while you do this to keep the stretch on your neck. Do the same process on the other side of your neck this time. Repeat this exercise for a few more repetitions and as many times during the day as you desire.
- Tuck your chin towards your chest and hold it there for a few seconds. With your chin tucked, you must inhale deeply such that you can see your chest lift. Do this for several repetitions per set.
Why Are You Clenching?
Do you find yourself involuntary clenching your teeth? This habit can cause a lot of strain on your neck and jaw muscles, resulting to TMJ disorder when not addressed in a timely manner. This can be characterized by silent clenching or in some cases is associated with loud grating sound on your teeth.
Stress and anxiety is the most common cause of bruxism. When you deal with psychological stress, you tend to clench your teeth during sleep. Stress can be caused by work, study, or relationships. It is important to eliminate stressors that can cause anxiety in your daily life.
Misaligned teeth are another reason that can lead to teeth clenching. Meanwhile, some experts also point to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. This results in clenching because of the irregularities in your breathing pattern during sleep. Other factors such as lifestyle choices and diseases can also contribute to clenching.
How to Prevent Tightness in Jaw
Do you suffer from jaw tightness on a regular basis? If so, you might want to take note of these tips to prevent it:
- Eliminate stressors in your daily routine. The more stressed you are, the more prone you are to have bruxism. And tightness in jaw is a common symptom associated with bruxism.
- Refrain from eating sticky foods. These types of food require more chewing and can over-work your jaw muscles and TMJ.
- Refrain from eating food items with hard consistency. This can also apply excessive pressure on your jaw. A few examples of hard foods are nuts, ice chips, croutons, and more.
Whether you are prone to clenching your teeth or suffering from jaw tightness, make sure to perform the neck and jaw stretches on a regular basis. These exercises will help to maintain flexibility in those muscles so they are less likely to become stiff and suffer from TMJ disorder and tightness.