Flesh being torn apart by sharp incisors. Chew size pieces crushed and ground before being swallowed…

Did you think i was talking about sharks?

Apologies for misleading you, I want to talk about the human jaw and how it affects our health rather than our frequently misunderstood fishy friends.

Our jaws are made up of 2 bones, the mandible (lower jaw) and maxilla (upper jaw). One of the muscles within the jaw is the masseter muscle.

The masseter is the strongest muscle in the body in terms of how much force it exerts compared to its weight. It can close the incisors teeth with a force of up to 25kg – think of how much your suitcase weighs… and up to 90kg for your molars…. Just let that sink in for a bit!

Most of us tend to hold tension in our jaw by clenching our teeth whether we realise it or not and up to 30% of adults also grind their teeth while they sleep.

It can be caused by many things but stress and repressed emotions are top of the list (think anger and rage etc) with most people being unaware when they are clenching their jaw. Some of us can go our whole lives without realising the amount of pressure we are exerting on our jaws and the issues it may be causing us.

This tension/clenching and grinding of the jaw can lead to headaches, sleeping issues, neck and back problems, less energy and more fatigue etc.

So, what’s the easiest way to relax the jaw?

Bring your awareness to your jaw and look for tension.

Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, with the tip (gently rounded) right behind your top teeth.

Let your jaw gently drop allowing a little space between your top and bottom teeth. Keep your mouth closed and your lips gently touching.

This will help relax your jaw and keep your tongue in the correct place for when you are not eating, drinking, talking or breathing through a snorkel!

Keep checking your jaw throughout the day and with practise, over time you will find you are much more relaxed as a result.

The really good news is that when you work on relaxing your jaw, you also go a long way towards relaxing the rest of your body.

As the song “Dem Bones” says “the head bone’s connected to the neck bone etc” everything is connected within the musculoskeletal system so by relaxing a particular part of the body, eg the jaw, it can have a direct knock on effect to help other parts nearby relax too.

Relaxing your jaw will affect the muscles in you face, potentially reducing headaches/earache/toothache as well slowing the wrinkling, ageing process! The tongue and the neck which connect down into your back and shoulders will all relax too, helping to relieve and possibly alleviate numerous ailments.

The more your work on relaxing your jaw and thus your body, the less energy you will expend being tense and the more you will have left to do the things you want, like watching a classic 1970s Spielberg film….

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