The following is a series of Jaw exercises that can be of benefit to many patients suffering from Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). They are part of Dr. Allan Kalamir’s TMJ protocol, so before performing them, an assessment of your jaw pain is strongly suggested, to make sure some or all of these exercises are not contra-indicated (bad for you). Most people with jaw problems also tend to have neck problems, so please visit the Neck Exercises page for additional exercises. In addition, it is important coordinate any treatment plans with your dentist, to ensure that any dental problems that may be contributing to the condition are treated appropriately. Due to the significant effects of stress commonly observed in people suffering from jaw pains, occasionally the additional cooperation of a psychologist in your management plan may be of benefit.
The Two Sets Of Movement
A common finding in patients who suffer problems at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s), is a restricted opening of the jaw joints. Typically, you should be able to fit 3 fingers (ideally at the 2nd knuckle) into your mouth. If not, then likely you have some restriction of the TMJ’s.
The following are 2 sets of exercises. The first is a basic Range of Motion set, while the second involves an isometric contraction of the jaw into the opposite direction at half way, then at the end range point. (An isometric contraction is where you push into your hand, but don’t allow any movement to occur). By engaging a muscle into contraction, we can actually improve it’s stretch ability.
SET A. Range of Movement
Keeping your head level, slowly open your jaw as far as you can. Sit in front of a mirror if possible and watch for any deviation from the centre line. If so, try to open as evenly as you can. Hold the maximum opening for 3 seconds, then close.
2. Lateral Deviation
Next, open your mouth only enough to separate the teeth by a few millimetres, then slowly thrust your jaw to the left as far as it can go. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to neutral.
Repeat on the right side.
3. Protrusion / Retrusion
Next, slightly separate the teeth as in the former exercise, but this time thrust your jaw forward in a “gorilla” pose (make sure to keep your head neutral and only thrust the jaw).
Hold for 3 seconds, then pull the jaw back as far as it can go (it will usually not go back more than a couple of millimetres), again holding for 3secs
SET B. Progressive Resisted Range of Motion
Start with the knuckle of one finger in your mouth. Bite down with mild force (being careful so as not to hurt yourself). Hold for 3-5 seconds, then open your mouth to half-way. Now put 2 knuckles into your mouth, again biting down on them carefully. Hold as before, then place 3 knuckles into the mouth (if you can) and repeat the previous procedure.
2. Lateral Deviation
Start in neutral. Place your left hand beside your chin and push into it isometrically ( i.e. don’t let your chin move). Hold for 3-5 seconds, then deviate your chin to the right to about half-way. Push into your hand the opposite way again isometrically, holding the half-way position for 3-5 seconds. Now deviate your chin all the way to the right and repeat another isometric contraction the opposite way for 3-5 seconds. Finish with a final deviation to the right as far as it will go, holding for 3-5 seconds, then return to start position and repeat the same procedure for the opposite side.