This post is following along the lines of advice as opposed to any recent performing opportunity I have had. However, I am sure there are some people out there that may find how I am trying to keep my tension under control slightly interesting so this ones for you!
Jaw Tension comes from stress/nail biting/teeth grinding or posture. I have been through stages of trying to diagnose which of these is my problem, maybe it is a mix of all or just one that I can’t identify because I am asleep. I was first made aware that I had this by the singing tutor at GSA. He gave me some exercises to do every morning including: letting your jaw flop open without engaging the muscles and placing your tongue behind your teeth. You then have to push your tongue in and out whilst keeping the tip in contact with your teeth. Still without engaging your jaw muscles. The idea is that eventually you will be able to drop your jaw without help from your muscles further and further over time. I do keep up with this exercise but the results are minimal so far.
This is because I am still tackling the root of the problem and why I have it. My first point of call was posture and I even invested in a neck brace to prevent forward head posture. This, I don’t think helped all that much but it did give me a good idea of where my forward head posture was and where is unnaturally upright for me so that I could find a middle ground. I definitely need to keep reminding myself of it but I am sure that I have come on leaps and bounds with my posture.
Going to the osteopath fortnightly for a while definitely helped as we would work on the Tension in my shoulders and neck which contribute to a stiff jaw. Being able to relax my upper body has never been an easy feat for me and it is unsurprising the tensions I have had in my shoulders and neck since I was a child would be reflected in other connected zones.
Massage was also a technique recommended to me, there are certain ways to do it and I will put a really informative link below, and I found that I struggled to do this with my hands without either getting bored and tired or without agitating my skin. One day whilst I was in body shop I came across a facial massager, they sell a few but I felt that the weight of this would be more effective. It has 2 metal balls on the end of the handle and using these to run up and down my jaw muscles and neck muscles I definitely think helps when it gets very sore and painful. If you would like to get one of these you can find them Here
I’m sure there are other great massagers out there but that is just the one I have.
A more recent solution I came across on the internet was the use of lavender to relax muscles including the jaw. This fitted in perfectly with the diffuser/steamer my mum got me for my birthday for my room. Since using it every night with 80ml of water and a couple drops of lavender I have noticed that (as a mouth breather) my mouth is less dry in the mornings, I sleep better my vocal chords are getting a chance to rejuvenate and my jaw is less tight. This isn’t something I noticed immediately but when I spent a few days away from home I was waking up to pain from my jaw which I then realised had been absent from my mornings. This diffuser is from Neals yard and I will link it Here
These diffusers and the lavender fragrance are also extremely beneficial for voices and vocal systems but the steamer for my room is not as effective as a proper vocal steamer like this one Here
There are plenty of techniques and remedies out there at the touch of a button but from experience I have a couple of suggestions: Painkillers are not permanent fixes and often my tension prevents me from opening my mouth fully. If I can’t feel that pain as a warning I could do more damage to my muscles than good prolonging the tension; opening my mouth for long periods of time before closing it I did not find effective at all but I would try it and see what you think, it made my jaw feel a lot more sore.
Please do not think I am some kind of trained person I am just someone who struggles with this type of tension and would like to offer my experiences. If your pain persists and is more of a chronic pain I would consult a doctor as that sounds more like TMJ syndrome x
If you suffer from tension this is a great read: