TMJ pain relief can often come from simple jaw stretches and exercises that work the temporomandibular joint. The jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw are often involved. Clicking, popping, pain, and deviations in the movements of the joint are common symptoms. Stretching the TMJ and strengthening the muscles around the joint are just as important as any other part of your body. These simple stretches and exercises should help.
Start off with placing your hand under your thigh to keep your shoulder down, then side bend your head to the opposite side and gently put pressure with your other hand to get a stretch through your trapezius muscles. Hold these for 30 seconds and perform 3 times on each side.
Next you will do some gentle active range of motion stretches. Turn your head from side to side like you are looking over your shoulder. This is neck rotation. Now bring your chin to your chest and then looking up towards the ceiling. This is neck flexion and extension. These should not be painful, and if you feel any dizziness looking up, hold off on that one. Do each way five times.
Now you will massage some of the muscles that become tight when you have TMJ dysfunction. Start with the Masseter muscles. Place your middle three fingers on each side of your jaw. The muscle is in the space below your upper jaw bone. These muscles help you chew. Put some pressure inward and push upward. You can do this for 1-2 minutes.
Then you will move to your temporalis muscles that sit over your temples. These muscles get very tight when you have stress. Place your fingers over the area, and make circular motions. You can do ten one way, and then reverse it and do ten the other way.
The final exercises are isometric exercises. This means you are pushing, but not moving the muscles. You are activating them, but your jaw should not actually move. You want to keep your jaw in alignment, and have your mouth slightly open so your teeth are not touching.
First, hold your mouth slightly open and aligned. Then, with your palm, push your jaw upward. You should feel a stretch on your TMJ.
Next, push down on your bottom teeth with your fingers, and push up with your jaw. Try to keep your jaw in one place, and don’t bite down.
Finally, take your palm and slowly push on one side of your jaw. The pressure is on your chin. Push back with your jaw, but make sure your teeth are aligned. Start off gently, and if there is no pain, push a little harder. Do both sides; this will increase the strength and control of the joint.
Hold these for about 5 seconds each, and build your time up to 30 seconds, doing 3-5 each.