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!
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.
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.
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