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Why clenching your jaw could be the culprit behind your back pain, neck pain, or _____ (fill in the

My typical client is in chronic pain of some sort and has tried many different things to get out of it. I would say 80-90% of them check the “I clench my jaw”-box on their intake form. Most of my clients wear or have been prescribed night guards (that they often don’t wear). So, no matter where in the body their pain is, I always include the jaw in my assessment.

Clients are always amazed when we trace back their symptoms to their jaw but are easily convinced that it is relevant when they realize how weak their core muscles are when I have them relax their jaw during a manual muscle test and how strong their core muscles become when they clench their jaw. The muscles of mastication, or chewing muscles, are overused big time - and not for chewing. Subconsciously we clench or tighten our jaw whenever we need to generate force somewhere in the body. It is needless to say that this can lead to a multitude of problems locally – headaches, neck pain, jaw pain. And it doesn’t allow for the original problem (pain somewhere else in the body) to resolve.

I have an intra-oral massage endorsement from the State of Washington and I treat A LOT of jaws. After releasing the overactive muscle(s) I have the clients activate the previously weak muscle(s) and I teach them how to do this at home so they can break this dysfunctional pattern and get out of pain for good.

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