5 Things About Jaw Position That You Should Know

\"IMG_4165jaw\"Jaw Tension.

Those of you who know me from the dance studio, have heard me repeatedly give direction on your jaw.  Release your jaw, soften the root of your tongue, let your jaw hang, smile! I\’m kind of broken record for a lot of directions. Those of you who don\’t dance, don\’t worry you have a jaw. I\’ve found a piece of research that supports my continual prompting that could aid in integrating that habit outside of the studio. Which is what I\’d ideally like to happen for the majority of my verbal rants!  If you don\’t integrate the behavior outside of the studio, it\’s really hard to find it in the studio, considering most of you (and me) are spending less time dancing in your bodies and more time in daily life, computing, commuting and compressing with our bodies.

  1. The position of  your jaw can affect your posture. Relaxing your jaw is accomplished by exploring the relationship between your jaw to your head and your head to your body.  See the study. See # 6
  2. A jaw at rest or neutral has a low-level of muscle tonicity or muscle tension.  This is referred to the myocentric position.  I\’m going to rely on my common sense and experience to categorize the muscular activity as relaxed.
  3. Some people clench their jaw so much they can wear off their enamel, or crack a tooth. Dang! Can you imagine what their neck feels like? And you\’ve probably heard about TMJ syndrome?
  4. Your jaw position can affect your weight distribution, pressure through the foot and gait stability. Psst! Check your shoe\’s wear and tear.
  5.  And apparently, your body posture may affect jaw position.
  6. If you put your fist under your jaw right now and are unable to open your jaw fully, your head is in a really bad position.

Body Play
Touch your earlobe softly and caress towards your chin, feeling the broadest part of your jaw. Use your index finger and trace the outline of your mandible. Are you lifting your head and hyperextending your neck? Find your sitz bones and sit tall, can you unclench your jaw and let it hang? At what angle is your jaw in relationship to your head, the floor, the rest of your body? ideally, it should be at an oblique angle as opposed to  horizontal.  If it isn\’t are you \”sucking\”  your lips or is there tension in your tongue?
Go for a walk, try 3 different jaw positions.  Teeth touching, jaw ligaments soft and hanging and the position in which your jaw is when you swallow.  See how each position  presents itself in terms of tension in various parts of the body. Is it easier to walk in one position or another?

Further Study
Try this exercise from Mary Bond, she nails it in her exploration of the root of the tongue and the spine. Me thinks she is a dancer!

Visualization Ideokinesis
I like my jaw soft, so I envision melted taffy. It\’s soft but strong. Can you pull your taffy  ( jaw muscles) long?

That just made my mouth water…now go take a walk!