TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a general term used to define various problems with the functionality of your jaw. Most often, it is characterized by pain in your jaw joints and muscles, sometimes accompanied by noises during jaw movement and reduced jaw mobility. While not considered a high-risk condition, TMJ disorder can cause a severe decrease in your quality of life, and serves as a starting point for other problems, including depression and anxiety.
Nevertheless, if you do suffer from a form of TMJ disorder, do not give in to despair. There is strong evidence that TMJ physical therapy and jaw exercises can relieve TMJ pain. In this article, we will list ten effective TMJ exercises you can do to at home to improve your condition, and quality of life.
TMJ Exercises to Relieve Pain, Increase Mobility, and Build Strength
Despite the gravity with which some people and doctors look upon TMJ disorder, there are many jaw exercises you can do at home to reduce the symptoms, and recover your jaw functionality. Besides any TMJ your doctor might recommend, the following exercises are key to a successful TMJ relief from pain, and a swift recovery.
You should do these TMJ exercises at least once a day, but preferably twice a day, in the morning, and before you go to bed. If you feel pain during the exercises, discontinue them.
Strength TMJ Exercises
These help you build up your jaw and skull muscles, and are important for increasing jaw strength, so that it can respond to internal and external forces correctly.
- Jaw Exercise 1. Put your thumb beneath your chin, with the rest of your fist pointing forward, and push upwards. Then, open your jaw against the pressure made by your hand. Do three sets of five repetitions each.
- Jaw Exercise 2. This exercise does the exact opposite. Hold your chin open by placing your fingers just beneath the lower lip, and pull down. Then close your jaw against the pressure made by your hand. Do three sets of five repetitions each.
- Jaw Exercise 3. Move your jaw laterally as much as possible, from the extreme left to the extreme right. Repeat ten times.
- Jaw Exercise 4. This exercise is good at relieving extra pressure in your jaw joints. Push your jaw forward until your bottom teeth are slightly in front of your upper teeth. Repeat ten times.
Stretching TMJ Exercises
These help you build mobility in your head and jaw ligaments, a vital element in relieving joint pain and pressure.
- Head Exercise 1. Do four sets of complete head rotations, two clockwise and two anti-clockwise. Each set should have at least ten repetitions.
- Head Exercise 2. Do two sets of complete lateral turns, and two sets of vertical inclines with your head. Each set should have 10 repetitions.
- Jaw Exercise 5. Open your mouth as much as you can, and close it back again. Repeat 5 times.
Posture TMJ Exercises
Amounting to a sort of TMJ yoga, these exercises help you maintain a correct body position, which ensures that your bones and muscles do what they are supposed to, and not something else.
- Back exercise 1. Our office jobs make us slouch a lot. Force yourself into a correct upright posture, and maintain it for two minutes, then repeat. Remember that the head should be directly above the shoulders at all times, and not in front of them.
- Back exercise 2. Assume a push-up position, by resting your palms on the ground. Keep your head straight, and maintain the position for one minute. Repeat 2 times.
- Back exercise 3. Pull back your head and shoulders, with your arms raised parallel to the ground. Maintain the position for thirty seconds, and repeat 2 times.
Remember that you should practice these TMJ exercises daily. Results never come quickly, so you will have to be persistent for an extended period of time.
If done under the supervision of a doctor and alongside specialized treatment, there is a good chance your overall condition will improve in time and perhaps even heal completely. TMJ exercises are an excellent way to use a set of muscles which are very often neglected, and to relieve pain. An efficient alternative treatment of TMJ disorders and jaw pain is acupuncture. Can you suggest other good TMJ exercises and treatments? What worked for you? In your experience, which are the best jaw exercises and stretches for TMJ? Leave your comments in the form below!