For most, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is simply another part of your facial anatomy; it is the hinge-like attachment between your lower jawbone and the rest of your skull. For sufferers of TMJ disorders however, it can be the epicenter of inflammation and discomfort.
Temporomandibular disorders, or TMD, can appear in individuals with prior injuries, arthritis damage, or those with bruxism who grind their teeth. Without intervention, this tightness may lead to aching, tenderness and possibly difficulty speaking or chewing. Although the symptoms can be painful, most people are able to manage them with proper self-care.
In these cases, incorporating yoga into your daily routine might help to alleviate jaw soreness. Yoga targets the tension of TMD by strengthening to support and restore muscles, and stretching to increase mobility and looseness. Interested? Consider trying these three poses at home.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
This is a great stretch to improve flexibility and release tension which might be sitting in your jaw. In a relaxed seated position, draw yourself upwards into a straight posture. Inhale, then as you release the breath, bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Take your right hand over the crown of your head, and apply a light pressure to your left ear, pulling your head deeper into the stretch, no more than is comfortable. Rest here for ten seconds before letting go, and moving on to the left side.
Start by lying face down on your stomach, with your arms folded at your sides, your palms on the ground beneath your shoulders. Gently press into the floor to lengthen your back and lift your head up. For an extra stretch, lift your gaze higher as well, facing towards the sky. Cobra pose is easy to modify to make the position more accessible; if you have stiffer joints, try it against a wall instead of lying down.
Cat-cow pose is particularly helpful to bring a stretch all the way through your shoulders and back, building up additional support to the muscles in your neck and jaw. On a mat or carpet, bring yourself into a tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips. As you inhale, extend your spine, allow your stomach to lower, and bring your head to face forwards, coming into the cow pose. Bend into your exhale and arch your back upwards, dropping your head towards the ground in cat pose.
If you’ve been struggling to manage your jaw pain, connect with us today to see how we can help you.