Are you noticing your jaw getting a bit tired lately? The holiday season is going strong and I suspect that your mouth has been doing a bit more over time than usual. Am I right? You have been opening your mouth more now with food and talking the past couple of weeks. What’s opening your mouth a few more times for a jaw and neck exercises going to do to you?
The facial muscles responsible for closing your mouth are the temporalis, masseter and medial pterygold. The temporalis muscle starts from the side of your head on the temporal bone and ends on the mandible, around the top of the jaw bone. The masseter muscle originates along the side of your cheek bone or zygomatic arch and ends on the mandible, the bottom of the jaw bone. The medial pterygold muscle starts at the pterygold plate on the inside surface and ends on the inside bottom of the mandible.
The back of the neck muscles help to bring back the head and open up the mouth when the bottom jaw is not moving. The small neck extensor muscles are semispinalis capitis and cervicis and splenius capitis and cervicis. When these neck muscles work together they extend the head back. There are other neck extensor muscles but the ones mentioned previously are the focus for these jaw and neck exercises.
The opening of the jaw neck exercises will help release tension along the side of the head. When the facial muscles that close the mouth are tight, you may develop a headache. These chewing muscles can also make you clench your teeth or even grind your teeth. Releasing the tightness in these jaw muscles with neck exercises will provide relief to your mouth.
The open mouth jaw and neck exercises can be done sitting, standing or even lying down. The purpose of these open mouth jaw and neck exercises is to balance the muscles and be pain free. When using your neck extensor muscles to open your mouth is to balance the top of the jaw muscles. I’ll describe the open mouth jaw and neck exercises in sitting. Let’s begin!
- Feet flat on the floor
- Hands in your lap
- Relax your shoulders
- Do a chin tuck by bringing your chin back towards your shoulders
- Relax your mouth
- Have your eyes looking straight ahead
Open Mouth Jaw and Neck Exercises:
- Breathe in
- Open your mouth by moving your bottom jaw down
- Close your mouth by bringing your jaw up
- Breathe out
- Breathe in
- Begin to tilt the top of your head back
- Let the top of your mouth open up
- Leave your bottom jaw in place
- Close your mouth as you bring your head back to starting position
- Breathe out
- Repeat this 10 times
There should be no pain or discomfort with these neck exercises. The movements with the jaw and neck should be slow, smooth and controlled. Avoid clenching your teeth or biting down hard when closing the mouth. You should feel a slight stretch in your jaw muscles as you open and close. If you have pain with these movements, limit the motion of opening and closing or stop all together. Other mouth and jaw neck exercises will be described at a later time.