Exercise has traditionally been one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions in America. There’s a reason why gyms are always packed in January. While there’s no doubt that working on your waistline is important, there are other forms of exercise that are also important for a pain-free 2018: TMD exercises.
The temporomandibular joint functions as a hinge connecting the jaw to the temporal bones at the base of the skull. When problems with this joint occur, they’re know as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), more commonly referred to as TMJ.
As suffers know, the symptoms of this disorder can be quite painful. TMD has been known to cause migraines, tinnitus, lockjaw, and can limit mobility and affect eating. If you suffered with TMD pain throughout 2017, then regular exercise may be your opportunity to recover. Published in the Journal of Dental research, a 2010 study suggests that jaw exercises can reduce pain and increase mobility in the mouth quite significantly.
For these exercises, think less of a regular chin-up where you pull yourself above a bar, and more of jaw and neck stretch. First, clasp your hands behind your back, pull downwards to activate your shoulders, and point your chin high into the air. Hold this position for ten seconds then invert so that your chin is pointed as low as possible. Count another ten seconds and repeat for three sets.
Jaw Rotations: side to side
To perform this exercise properly, you’ll need a quarter inch object. Place the object between your teeth, softly clamp down, then roll your jaw side to side. As your jaw gets stronger, increase the thickness of the object to add difficulty.
Jaw Rotations: back to front
Much like the side to side rotations, start this exercise with a quarter inch object softly held between your teeth. Then, slowly stretch your jaw forward until your bottom teeth ease past your front.
These helpful exercises are basically isometric resistance training for your mouth. Place your thumb lightly under your chin, offering your jaw resistance while trying to open your mouth. Do this ten times before inverting the exercise by opening your mouth, grabbing your chin, and offering resistance while closing your mouth.
These exercises can be incredibly helpful for those suffering from TMD pain, but sometimes exercise isn’t enough. If you’ve been experiencing jaw pain for awhile, it might be time to schedule an appointment.