Hi everybody, Dr. Cobb back with you.
Today we’re going to be talking about the head and neck and the jaw.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions again about headaches. Now one of my prior blogs (Click Here) I showed you a couple of different exercises to really start to loosen up the back of the head with regards to headaches. There’s a lot of different reasons that we may get them, but one of the things I want you to realize is that your head and neck and jaw and tongue and throat, they’re all one big integrated unit. Sometimes what we need to do is we need to actually exercise everything in order to improve the overall function.
So today what I’m going to take you through are a series of exercises that are designed to improve not only head and neck motion, but also jaw motion. I think you’ll find them interesting and also kind of challenging. To get us started what we’re going to do is we’re going to work on the base of the skull, the muscles in the base of the skull. It’s a pretty simple exercise. We call it a sliding nod. It’s found in our base level exercise series called R-Phase.
The way that we’re going to perform this is we’re going to put our fingers at the base of our skull. We’re going to tuck our chin quite tightly, and then we’re going to fold our whole neck forward. Once we’ve done that we’re going to pull our head back as if we were a chicken. So whenever we do that you should feel a kind of mild stretching sensation in the base of the skull. What I like to have people do is nice and slowly controlled, pain free range of motion, do maybe five repetitions of that. One, two, three, four, and five.
Now once you’ve started to feel a little bit of mobilization in the base of the skull you can make it a little more specific by turning your head. So you may want to turn your head about 15 or 20 degrees and repeat the motion to each side. When you turn the head you’ll actually isolate down a little bit more to muscles on each side of the spine and that may feel really good. Now after we’ve mobilized the back of the head you can get an idea of how loose your neck feels, the next thing we want to do is to work on the jaw itself.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a little bit of strengthening work for the jaw. The way that you’re going to do this is you’re going to keep your mouth closed so your lips are going to be touching. Your teeth are going to be loosely apart, not wide apart, just loosely apart and we’re going to do three different movements. For the first movement we’re going to take our hands and put them on either side of our chin and we’re going to try to push our jaw forward while providing resistance backwards with our hand.
Now I don’t want you to overdo this. I want you to keep it really light in the beginning, maybe 20 or 30% of pressure of strength in the jaw. But as you do that notice if you feel differences side to side. It’s really important that you provide similar force with both hands, just be careful about that, but we’re going to try and work on moving the jaw forward against resistance. You want to hold that resistance for about ten seconds, release, rest for about ten seconds, and repeat that maybe three to four times.
Now that we’ve moved the jaw forward we’re now going to strengthen it going to the right and to the left. Once again, simple set up, your mouth is going to be closed, lips closed, teeth just slightly apart. You’re going to put your fingers on one side and if my fingers are on the right side of my jaw I’m going to try to push my jaw into my fingers and I’m going to resist that. Once again, keep the pressure low, but as you hold it for ten seconds, rest, repeat for ten seconds you’ll start to feel some fatigue building up in the jaw muscles and probably also underneath your jaw. So you’re going to do jaw to the front, jaw to the right, jaw to the left, three repetitions, ten second holds each time.
Finally after we’ve done all that we’re going to do some tongue exercises. Now I know this sounds kind of weird, but you’ll see tongue exercise being used kind of around the speech therapists use them, a lot of people are now starting to look at them a little bit for snoring issues and other things, although the research is a little clouded on that. But what we found is that doing some work to strengthen the tongue muscles can also have a profound impact just on neck flexibility and also overall head function.
So we’re only going to do two basic tongue exercises today, but it’s something I want you to start to think about. So for exercise number one you’re going to take the tip of your tongue and you’re going to push it into the roof of your mouth right where your teeth and palate meet. You’re going to keep your lips together to do that and you’re going to press hard with the tongue for about ten seconds, rest for ten, repeat for ten, rest for ten, repeat for ten. So again, three sets of ten presses.
If you want to see if you’re doing it right you can put your fingers underneath your chin and you’ll feel the muscles really popping out strongly when you do that. So it’s going to create a nice toning effect also for the muscles underneath the jaw. Once you’ve done that particular exercise we’re going to do it one more time, only now you’re going to find the back of your front teeth, you’re going to draw your tongue backwards until you find the first big ridge, you’re now going to curl your tongue and press into that with the bottom of your tongue, again with the lips closed, teeth together pressing again for ten seconds.
So it’s two real basic, if you will, toning exercises for the tongue muscles, but again this can have a profound effect on overall jaw function, head and neck function. So we found these really successful for a lot of people with jaw issues, headaches. So give these exercises a try, kind of in this sequence, and realizing you may get some fatigue as you do it, but that really should be a good indicator. If you’re having a hard time doing these for 30 seconds it may give you an indication that there’s a little bit of weakness there that needs to be addressed.
So there you have it, some more ideas about getting rid of headaches, jaw issues, throat issues.
Going forward let us know if you have any questions about these exercises, and more importantly let us know how they help you.