Our bodies have weird ways of speaking to us.
If we’re not listening, it’s easy to miss the subtle signs of stress.
We’ve been talking a lot about stress, stress fatigue and stress management– and all for good reasons.
Stress is still on the rise and we’re only beginning to understand the complexity of the the impact of the pandemic on our bodies.
So- I’ve been slowing down, trying to notice my body, taking the time to check in on the tension accumulating in my body, learning from my body’s wisdom.
AND here’s something I have noticed- I AM A JAW CLENCHER- Which means that I am more prone to developing Tempormandibular Join (TMJ) Disorder.
We hardly notice when we clench the jaw, often we’re not even awake! So then why is it relevant? Because it’s a TEXTBOOK symptom of stress.
Quick assessment, how many of these Symptoms of Stress can you check?
✅ Inability to sleep,
✅ Teeth grinding
✅ Jaw muscle pain.
The presence of any of these symptoms can indicate that you (and me) might be experiencing TMJ disorder (TMJ-D) but the combination of two or more symptoms might suggest further attention is required.
TMJ-D is a very common condition that millions of people suffer from. People with a TMJ-D may have a variety of symptoms. Some are more of an annoyance, while other symptoms are more severe and can affect a person’s quality of life.
We want to try to get ahead of our body’s stress tendencies because over time, TMJ-D can create a cycle that is hard to break. When we’re in constant pain and it’s preventing us from getting quality sleep, our bodies remain in a heightened state of stress which creates (you got it!) more tension in the jaw.
SO THEN, what comes next? How do we start relieving this TMJ-D pain?
Are You Experiencing TMJ Disorder?
- Do you have pain and tenderness in or around the ear, the jaw joint, or the muscles of the jaw, face or temples?
- Do you have problems opening or closing your mouth?
- Can you hear clicking, popping, crunching or grinding when you chew, yawn or open your mouth?
- Do you experience frequent neck pain and headaches?
- Do you have pain in the back teeth from griding?
Treating TMJ-D is two-fold, we can make simple changes AND work with a specialist to yield the best results.
Here are some actions you can take:
- Avoid overuse of jaw muscles
- Eat soft foods or cut food into small pieces
- Steer clear of sticky or chewy food
- Avoid chewing gum
- Apply warm, moist heat or ice to the side of your face
- BOOK A MASSAGE with someone who is familiar with TMJ Disorders
- Regularly practice the excercises that your massage therapist will teach you to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles and relieve tension
WHAT WILL A MASSAGE THERAPIST DO FOR ME?
Massage therapists are trained to use acute use techniques to apply pressure directly to trigger points to reduce pain.
All of our registered massage therapists at We Thrive Wellness in Belleville, Ontario will give you exercises to improve your TMJ-D. These may include: muscle stretching, gentle tension exercises, guided opening and closing movements, manual joint distraction and correction of body posture techniques. In addition to these exercises, deep breathing and relaxation muscle exercises may also be effective.
I’m already looking forward to my appointment- are you ready to book yours?
Stef Bourke is a certified Meditation and Alignment Coach. She focuses on providing practical tools to help people experience more mindful moments in their everyday lives. She is a lover of nature, animals and authentic connection. When she’s not practicing meditation or yoga, you can find her outside, drinking in the experience of the world we live in.