Temporomandibular Joint (in short TMJ!)
PAIN IN THE NECK? IT MAY BE CONNECTED TO YOUR JAW!
We all suffer from neck pain from time to time. For some of us it is a regular problem & others it can be intensified when we are feeling stressed.
Let’s take a look at the anatomy of our neck and face:
I love an anatomy diagram! Isn’t it amazing! Look at all of the muscles in the neck! Can you spot the ‘anterior temporalis muscle’ and the ‘TMJ capsule’? These can get tight and hold tension. Why not see how yours feels? Use the pads of your fingertips, massage slowly around your temple area. Does that feel good? Releasing some tension? Whilst having a shower, take a few moments to massage your scalp too (see if you can get your scalp to move, like you are itching a wig!!) Do the same in the temple area. Nice?!
So what is the TMJ and what significance does it have? This joint is basically responsible for moving our jaw, talking, eating, laughing etc. Move your jaw from side to side? You will look like a camel chewing his lunch! Does that make a clicking sound? Feel like its pulling behind your ear area? See if you can feel where the joint is moving, just below where the bottom on your ears are attached to your face. Found it? GENTLY apply some pressure both sides at once….oooff! A bit tender? Just applying a small amount of pressure can help ease that feeling. The TMJ can also hold lots of tension if we are anxious, worried or generally just trying to keep up with the hectic lifestyles we lead! I have an awful habit of jutting my lower jaw out when I am concentrating! I have to consciously put my top and bottom jaws back in the right place! Gives me a headache! Always signals my time to log off and go off and do something restorative!
Teeth grinding while we sleep will also put a strain on our TMJ. If it’s a real problem for you, go and see your dentist as they can suggest various treatments.
Next muscle to have a poke around for is the superficial masseter muscle (2 on the photo above), this muscle supports the lower jaw as well as other functions. Relax your jaw as much as you can, feel around your cheekbone, start at the side of your face by your ear and use 2 fingertips to feel all the way down to the lower jaw. Feel anything? It can be an odd sensation! This is SUCH a fab exercise to do to make your jaw area feel more relaxed.
How about adding in all the areas in the photo below? That is not me by the way!
Whenever I work on these areas with my lovely clients, they describe it as a ‘nice feeling of being a bit uncomfortable!!’ I know what they mean!
Other ideas to keep tension at bay!
Yoga, Pilates, take a walk, sing, be creative, take a 30min nap, practice mindfulness, meet a friend for a gossip, read a trashy magazine, do some gardening and anything that gives you a chance to concentrate on what YOU enjoy for a little while!