Jaw pain can be just annoying or incredibly debilitating.
Perhaps this is you. You wake up in the morning and your jaw just aches. Sometimes just touching your jaw can be sore and uncomfortable
Or perhaps you go to the dentist and you are told that you grind your teeth and that you should use a mouth guard. You know that you probably grind your teeth because you sometimes get sharp pain in your jaw during the day.
I’ve even had clients whose jaw pain is so acute that they have sinus problems and headaches. When we address the jaw pain both of these other problems have disappeared.
In this article, I want to teach you 3 simple ways that could help you relieve jaw pain.
And when I say simple I mean simple. I want to take a moment here and talk about simplicity. I feel that we live in a complicated world and we think that in order for solutions to be effective they need to be complicated. We may think that we need a complicated drug or another complicated solution. We are wary of simplicity. I have taught movement, fitness and a mindfulness practice called the Alexander Technique for over 20 years and my experience is that when applied simple solutions can be very effective! Are you with me?
So here are my suggestions to relieve jaw pain!
- Know where your head is! Here is some knowledge. Your head rests on top of your spine but do you know the place where the head articulates with the spine? If you take your index finger and place it on the flap in front of your ears and place your thumb just behind your earlobe you can locate the place of articulation very deep in the skull. This is your atlanto-occipital joint. This is important because the way the head articulates with the spine determines how well you function. So what has this got to do with jaw pain? Your head weighs 10-15 lbs. It is like a bowling ball sitting on top of your spine. When your head is not relating well to the spine your body has to work overtime to keep it upright. This work requires a lot of excessive muscular effort. Excessive muscular effort means tension and pain.
- Do not clench your tongue! That’s right! Your tongue is an extremely powerful muscle and when there is a lot of tension in the tongue there is a lot of tension in the jaw. Here’s the crazy thing about the tongue: not only does it rest in your mouth but it also goes way back into your throat. You can discover the attachment of the tongue by placing your thumb and index finger on either side of your throat just below your jaw. This is where your tongue attaches to a bone called the hyoid bone. If your tongue is plastered on the roof of your mouth then this indicates that you are carrying a lot of stress. So tell yourself to soften the tongue- the tip of the tongue, the middle part of the tongue and the back of the tongue that goes all the way back into the throat. Allow your tongue to rest on the floor of the mouth.
- Let your teeth float. Here’s a tip. Your teeth should only be touching when you are chewing or if you are really angry! That’s a joke, the last part anyway. But really, you can think about your jaw releasing down away from your skull or your upper teeth. Like the tongue, the jaw muscles are incredibly strong and can carry a tremendous amount of stress. One good way to stimulate release is to first tell yourself to allow the jaw to release down then take the heals of your palms and gently stroke the sides of your face in a downwards motion.
- Exhale and wait to breathe! Here is a short video that I recently made that teaches you how to breathe in a way to de-stress and release unnecessary muscular tension. This video demonstrates a breathing practice. This is not how you are supposed to breathe during your day. So, only practice this in short stints. 3-5X’s a sitting.
- Stop trying! When you “try” to do things you are bringing too much effort to any given task and this effort tightens and shortens muscles. Shortened and contracted muscles bring about pain. (Think about carrying a bag of groceries for a long distance without shifting arms. It is painful. Correct?) Instead of trying harder tell yourself that you are going to allow yourself to perform a task. This is a mindset change. How you think about movement will actually change how you move. Your movement should be light, free and joyful!
How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence. My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone! You can purchase it here.
My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness-based practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below.