Jaw and Pelvic Floor Connection: How to Release Both

i amIf your last trip to the dentist revealed an annoying jaw-clenching habit, it could be an indicator that something deeper is going on. It’s a phenomenon that Ann Collins Dutch, DPT, of Physical Therapy for Women in Delaware, often sees in her patients.

Jaw clenching is usually the result of stress, trauma, anger or other emotions that throw off your nervous system, says Dutch. And while one of the most noticeable ways this incontinence manifests is jaw clenching, it often leads to clenching in other parts of the body. One of the most common places? Your pelvic floor.

How are the jaws and pelvic floor connected?

“We develop this real connection when we’re a fetus,” says Dutch.

On day 15 of our development, a tube forms with two depressions: one becomes our mouth and the other becomes the opening for our digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts, she says.

On top of these deep-seated connections we make before birth, there is also a fascial line that runs from the jaw to the pelvis. These fascial lines are stretches of connective tissue that connect different muscles throughout the body.

How can I tell if I’m clenching my pelvic floor?

It’s pretty easy to tell if you’re clenching your jaw – you’ll probably wake up with a sore, stiff jaw and easily get a headache. (And if you for some reason no Note that, your dentist certainly will.) But recognizing when you’re clenching your pelvic floor can be trickier. A sign that someone’s pelvic floor is too tight is if they try to do Kegels and can’t feel anything, says Dutch.

“They don’t actually feel their muscles contract because they’re already contracted,” she explains.

Leaking urine can also be an indicator that your pelvic floor is overactive. Although these symptoms are often mistaken for a weak In some cases, the pelvic floor, Dutch says, is actually because the muscles are over-engaged. For example, when we jump, sneeze, laugh, or cough, our muscles must contract to hold urine. But if we tense our pelvic floor muscles all the time, they can’t contract effectively when we need to.

This means that jaw clenchers may want to take the Kegels easy, says Dutch. “A lot of people think they should be doing a lot of Kegel contractions when in reality, many people are walking around with an overactive pelvic floor,” she says. If you’re a jaw clencher, Dutch recommends focusing on breathing to help stretch and relax your pelvic floor muscles.

Try these exercises to relax *both* your jaw and your pelvic floor

The good news is that we can use this connection between our jaw and pelvic floor to our advantage. The following exercises can help you release tension in both your jaws And Your pelvic floor. To make sure it’s highly effective, focus on taking big, slow breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing puts downward pressure on your pelvic floor, forcing those muscles to release.

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    1. Gently draw your lips together and puff out your cheeks.
    2. With your eyes looking forward, slowly turn your head to one side, then back to center. Repeat on the other side, keeping your eyes looking straight ahead the entire time. Inhale and exhale through your nose while keeping your cheeks puffed out.
    3. Repeat three to five times, then on your last breath, let your cheeks relax.
    4. Keep your lips together and place your tongue between your upper and lower teeth.
    5. Feel your jaw lengthen and take three to five more breaths.
    6. Repeat this three times a day or as needed.

In addition to puffy cheek exercises, you can try blowing raspberries or humming for 10 seconds at a time to release jaw tension, says Dutch. She suggests trying one of these exercises every time you wash your hands to keep these muscles relaxed throughout the day.

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