There you are, plodding through your workday with an oncoming headache, tight shoulders, and a nagging stiff neck. Amazingly, the rest of your body feels pretty loose, lanky, and ache-free. Despite this, you’ve got a new health concern. That recent trip to the hygienist turned into a dental nightmare. Ugh, despite your consistently good oral care, your jaw is clicking and there are signs of wear on those pearly whites. The cause? Jaw tension!
Added to that, jaw tension can even result in headaches, facial pain, tooth grinding, gum recession, hearing loss, and more, becoming a real energy drain.
Looks like it’s time to add physical activity breaks to your workday!
Work’s Effects on Your Jaw
The physical symptoms of jaw tension are real and can be quite uncomfortable. Sometimes they’re downright painful and even get in the way of eating. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time working in front of the computer, it’s easy to overlook small physical triggers until your neck radiates pain all the way up to your temples.
4 Causes of Jaw Tension
This is the kind of tension that can creep up on a person over weeks or even months. It can happen while working remotely, in an office setting, and while sleeping. There are some clear contributors to jaw tension:
- Being sedentary–Even though physical activity isn’t always convenient with a demanding workday, physical activity breaks throughout the day are a great way to reduce jaw tension.
- Work space mis-design–The chair, computer setup, and overall comfort are vital ergonomic considerations that can decrease tension and promote circulation.
- Restless sleep–Too much on your mind, a hot room, and your lumpy pillow are just a few of the many things that disrupt sound sleep.
- Pretzel posture–That’s right! You’re either twisted all over the place or slumped, like a big ole letter C or even the beloved $.
7 Slick Solutions to Counter Jaw-Tensing Chair-Dwelling
Regular physical activity has been linked to reducing stress and improving health and wellness. When physical activity breaks are part of your workday routine, they help to relieve jaw tension due to the strain of hours at the desk. Other benefits are boosts in performance and energy levels, giving you fantastic focus as you generate work gems.
Now that it’s loud and clear that jaw tension can be associated with too much chair time (aka being sedentary), let’s get to the good stuff! You’ve got it here–what to do to jazzercise your being and thus your jaw. Get ready! Some of these are jaw-droppingly simple. Oh yes, and fun too!
- Get moving–Physical activity breaks - alongside a sea of other benefits - break up monotony, build physical strength, and alleviate jaw tension.
- Posture–Reposition yourself to make the most of your seated time, making sure you’re only on your butt for no more than 30-60 minutes at a stretch.
- Jaw stretch 1–Start by gently and carefully stretching your lower jaw as far out as it will go and then slowly return it back to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times. (Best not to do this one if you have TMJ.)
- Jaw stretch 2–Open your mouth wide, next touch the tip of your tongue to the hard palate ridge above your teeth. Yes, your mouth is still open. Release and repeat a few times.
- Yoga desk moves–These release work tension and are especially helpful for the shoulder and neck stiffness that leads to jaw aches and pains.
- Head tilts and turns–Begin as you slowly move your head back and forth, then from side to side, holding each stretch for three seconds at a time, if you wish.
- Shoulder rolls–Take both arms, cross them over your chest, and start rolling them in circular motions backward and then forward.
Next time you find yourself with jaw-dropping tension, remember to get into the physical activity break groove!
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