Jaw tension can cause chronic pain and illness throughout the body. Use these easy self-massage techniques to relieve muscle pain and tension in the jaw.
The major muscles affected in jaw tension include the masseter muscle and the temporalis muscle. Beneath the masseter muscle are the pterygoid muscles. These four are the major muscles of mastication. These muscles are responsible for jaw movement, and instrumental in jaw muscle pain and tension.
Causes of jaw tension may include:
- improper breathing
- poor posture
- medical condition such as TMJ disorder, rheumatoid arthritis or bone disorders
- grinding or clenching the teeth
- physical injury to the jaw or jaw joint
Jaw tension usually interacts with tension in the neck and shoulders. To treat neck and shoulder tension, please see:
Self-Massage for Jaw Tension and Pain
When using these massage techniques for relief of jaw tension, it’s important to breathe properly. Breathe deeply and steadily, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Poor breathing habits are a major cause of jaw muscle tension. For more about breathing, please see: Healthy Breathing: How to Break Bad Breathing Habits.
1. Masseter Muscle Massage: Tapping to Relieve Jaw Tension
Tapping can help relax the jaw muscles by stimulating blood flow to the jaw region. When the muscles are starved of oxygen, they become tense and strained. Tapping helps ease the strain in the jaw muscles and relieve pain caused by jaw tension.
Shake your hands first to release tension and limber up your hands and fingers. With your fingers relaxed, tap the outside of your cheek gently and repeatedly to relax the masseter muscle.
To tap, use three fingers together, or use all your fingers in a loose drumming motion against the sides of your face. Keep your hands relaxed and let your fingers bounce lightly off the tense jaw muscles.
Treat both sides of the face simultaneously if desired. This helps loosen the tension in the jaws and reduce pain caused by jaw tension.