Do you suffer with TMJD (jaw pain) or “text neck?”
I feel your pain! I hold a lot of tension in my jaw and have for a long time, and it is exacerbated dramatically by the fact that I look down all day for work…which makes the entire front part of my neck very, very tight. This tension pulls on my jaw (and yours, if you’re in a similar boat), making the jaw feel even tighter.
If you hold a lot of tension in your throat muscles and/or jaw, then you’re going to love the two techniques I show you today!
For the BEST result:
You will get the absolute MOST out of these two techniques if you combine them with the chest release followed by the best neck release EVER (it really IS the BEST, and if you haven’t tried it yet then you must – especially if you have any of the issues mentioned in this post).
Few pain patterns exist in isolation where you only need to target one or two areas, and this is no exception. Usually with something like TMJD, whiplash, tension headaches and neck pain, there are other factors at play. These two techniques alone will give you some good relief, but if you’re looking to eliminate the pain then be as thorough as possible by using the techniques linked to above.
Here’s what we’re targeting:
For the first technique we are really targeting EVERYTHING we possibly can in the front of the neck, with special emphasis on the SCM (sternocleidomastoid). We also want to grab as much of the many hyoid muscles’ fascia as well.
I know for me sometimes even just looking up or tilting my head up like the photo on the right causes the entire front of my neck to stretch because it is so tight. The more spacious this entire front part of the neck is, the more freedom the jaw (joint) and muscles of the jaw will have. We are NOT targeting that area today. So if you grind your teeth and most of your tension is actually IN the jaw itself…this may bring your some relief but it will not eliminate the pain.
The first technique I show you is CERTAINLY the most important. If you’re pressed for time or only want to commit to doing one of these, then pick the first one.
The second technique is a little tricky. Those SCM’s can be slippery little suckers! Ha. If you try this you will likely find out what I mean.
Specifically the SCM is responsible for rotating (turning) our head left or right, as well as neck flexion (tilting the head down). You can see that it connects below the ear in a way that can impact both the jaw and the temple region. This is why it can and does play a role in jaw pain and tension headaches.
If you are looking down ALL the time, like myself, then your SCM is in a state of constant contraction as it holds your neck in a flexed position. If you spend more time looking down than neutral or up, then the SCM will not be all that happy when you do ask it to lengthen. The tightness is ever present (unless stretching) and pulls on the jaw/ear/temple region.
This second technique will probably take you a little time to master, but if you have serious tension headaches or debilitating TMJD, I highly recommend mastering it. Once you do it’ll be a very EASY thing to add into a daily stretching routine to release everything that plays a part in your pain.
Get the most out of these techniques:
- Make sure you are not wearing ANY LOTION whatsoever – not on your hands or your neck. This will make it nearly impossible to perform this correctly, and you won’t get much lasting benefit.
- Take the time on both techniques to get a feel for how to PIN the tissues correctly.
- FOR TECHNIQUE #1: make sure you START by placing your fingers (the flats or pads, not the tips) in the MIDDLE part of your neck and push in GENTLY to “grab” the tissues (this works because your bare finger skin will stick a little to the bare skin of your neck…and why it won’t work with lotion), and then DRAG it down to the point of your collarbone. If you lose the grab/pin and find that you’re fingers just come to rest on your clavicle, then start over. You HAVE to grab the tissues in order to get a good result, otherwise there will be nothing to stretch with your head movement.
- Once you’ve figured out how to grab and pin the neck tissues, move your head to stretch them all out. Don’t be afraid to try different movements, you’ll notice which ones work and which don’t.
- Spend a good 30 seconds to a minute on each spot. Try to find 3-4 good “spots”: these will be where your fingers first make contact, before dragging that neck tissue down to the collarbone. A mere centimeter may make a big difference, so that’s why I mean by finding different spots.
- If you have JAW PAIN: start with moving your head, but then DEFINITELY add in jaw movement! Open and close your jaw, maybe jut it out to one side or take your bottom jaw slightly left and right. Figure out where YOUR tight spots are and work them out!
- FOR TECHNIQUE #2: Take your time, use GENTLE touch on this one and DO NOT grab your SCM with a lot of strength. DO NOT poke your fingers into your neck. Use the forefinger and thumb to grab a portion of the SCM, and then use head movement to stretch it out. This one doesn’t require a lot of movement to create a good release!
- If your SCM pops out of your fingers just let go quickly and gently, and then re-grab it.
- Try 3-4 spots here too, moving only a quarter inch or so at a time.
- Definitely make your way up, towards the upper attachment near the ear. This is often the most tight, and if you have TMJD you will want to focus your efforts here (especially if you find it is tender when you start working on it).