Jaw Pain and Stress: What You Can Do About It

Three Simple Remedies For Pain in Your Head and Jaw

jaw pain TMJ TMD stress anxiety reduction Breathe. Physical Therapy

Are you a teeth clencher? Does your jaw feel super tight, especially when you’re stressed? Do you ever notice clicking or headaches along with teeth clenching? Many people easily recognize that they hold stress in their shoulders, but the jaw is another place where tight muscles and stress can go hand in hand. This pain is called temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – named after the joint in the jaw.  Research has found a correlation between jaw pain/dysfunction and depression and anxiety. This helps us in understanding the whole picture of jaw pain. Here we’ve listed a few things that set the body up for success to decrease muscle tension!

Sit Right

A lot of our day is spent with our shoulders rounded forward, and our head in front of our shoulders. Make this better by thinking “sit on your vagina” – this will give you a good base of support. Then roll your shoulders back, and bring your head back in space so it’s above your shoulders (as if you were standing against a wall to get your height measured). Work on incorporating this “ideal” posture into your day 25% of the time that you’re sitting. It will become more natural over time! Sitting better helps muscles in our neck and head be more relaxed throughout the day. 

 

Learn How to Recognize Stress That’s Manifesting as Muscle Tension, Then Release It

Lay down, breathe, work on letting head be heavy, jaw muscles soft, and neck muscles empty and relaxed – notice when tension creeps in, revisit the breath as needed. Use this throughout the day to take a deep breath when you get a stressful email, or as a break when you’re hours deep in an intense project. Unclench your teeth, let the rows of your teeth rest separate from each other, let your tongue relax, and breathe into your belly.

Restorative Yoga

A restorative yoga class can do amazing things. The difference from other yoga is that the postures require less effort to hold, and each posture is held for up to several minutes. For this reason, it’s important to modify so that you’re totally comfortable in each pose. A restore class offers the opportunity to relax into various postures, finding and releasing tension throughout the body, as you also get a mental break. If you don’t feel totally at peace with zero stressful thoughts during a class like this, that’s totally normal! Like many other things in life, it’s a practice. 

This blog post is an introduction into jaw pain. Please consult with your physical therapist to receive advice that is specific to your body.