Tense jaw muscles occur for many reasons. Some people unconsciously clench their jaws during times of stress or tension, while others suffer from conditions known as TMJ disorders, disorders of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ disorders occur mainly because of teeth grinding, jaw clenching, jaw injury and arthritis. Certain exercises can help alleviate some of your symptoms by relaxing your jaw muscles.
Progressive Relaxation for the Jaw
The progressive relaxation exercise helps alleviate overcontraction of your jaw muscles. Clench your jaw as tightly as possible for a few seconds and then allow your jaw to fall open. Press your hand underneath your chin to provide gentle resistance as you open your jaw, then relax your jaw again. Next, move your jaw to the right, then relax. Move your jaw to the left, then relax. Finally, clench your jaw as tightly as possible, then relax your jaw muscles completely.
This exercise helps to fully stretch your masticatory muscles, the muscles in your jaw responsible for chewing and grinding. Massage your jaw muscles with your fingertips using small, circular motions. Next, open your mouth as wide as you can without pain or discomfort. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then release and relax your jaw. Perform 10 repetitions.