How would you feel if you went to a healthcare professional, and they suggested a fitness plan for your face?
Facial Muscles and Chronic Pain
It is largely unheard of, seems possibly irrelevant, and what would that entail? In a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis, the prevalence of temporomandibular joint disorders is 31% in adults and the elderly and 11% in children and adolescents. A study on orofacial pain conducted in 2020 concerned revealed that 10-15% of adults have orofacial pain, and further that 1 in 5 people who develop it develop a long-term pain condition. Furthermore, women are more than 2 times more likely than men to develop orofacial pain as well as persistent pain.
The facts expand for women, a study looking at the ovarian cycle showed that pressure pain sensitivities, or tenderness, in the masticatory muscles (our jaw muscles) are linked. Comorbidities are frequently seen in our pelvic health physical therapy practice between jaw pain and pelvic pain. So when we are more than willing to do painful facials, Botox, fillers, and worry about the appearance of our face, why would we not have a facial fitness plan to adhere to as well? And there is a bonus to doing this! A 2018 study from Northwestern University found that performing facial exercises for 20 weeks led to more youthful appearances, without any of the expensive spa treatments (link provided below, with exercise instructions).
Integrate Facial Care into Your Daily Routine and Fitness Plan
The muscles of the face have the potential to impact our health. Not knowing and understanding these muscles is the same as not knowing and understanding our back muscles. Jaw pain, sharing our emotions through facial features, connections to other pain syndromes, chewing food, using a straw, drinking water, responding to anxiety, grinding our teeth, clenching our jaw: these all involve muscles in the face.
Developing a routine to relax the muscles of the face and the neck, massage the face, and find time for quick, daily exercises could have a positive impact on all of the above. Lymphatic massage can help to drain toxins and can be done with the above for optimal results. Ruling out TMJD by visiting your dentist, and building a multidisciplinary approach using physical therapy, myofascial trigger point dry needling, massage, and lymphatic drainage may also be effective in reaching goals around any of the above-listed activities our facial muscles help us with. Please see below for direct article links and recommendations for a healthy facial lifestyle!
Facial Fitness by Patricia Goroway, is available on Amazon. Has excellent insights about exercises that are helpful to TMJD and Bells Palsey.
The 5-minute Facial Workout: 30 exercises for a naturally beautiful face by Catherine Pez. This book provides more options to choose from.
Face Yoga by Danielle Collins. This book teaches massage techniques and acupressure techniques in addition to exercises.
Raina D’Souza, Ashwini Kini, Henston D’Souza, Nitin Shetty, Omkar Shetty. Enhancing Facial Aesthetics with Muscle Retraining Exercises – A Review. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2014 Aug. Vol-8(8): ZE09-ZE12. DOI: 10.7860/JCDR/2014/9792.4753
Available free to the public at this link and provides pictures and detailed exercise instructions: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190816/