A few weeks ago I had an appointment with David Reavy, a Chicago-based physiotherapist known for his work with professional athletes in the NFL and NBA. When he pushed and pushed my body during the first evaluation, he asked me a question that honestly shocked me: "Have you had a headache lately?"
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In fact I was – bad ones. So bad that neither Tylenol nor Advil was able to relieve the pain that felt like a rubber band pressing my head, making it hard for me to sleep, work or generally function like a normal human adult.
"Uh, yes," I answered. "How do you know that?"
It turns out that my shoulders, neck and especially my jaw were super tight ̵
What happened next blew me away, making my headache disappear in about 10 seconds. All that was needed was a deceptively simple, ridiculously effective exercise to release the tension from my jaw: a relaxing massage.
But first: What is the masseter muscle and how can it cause a headache?
The masseter is the thick muscle that joins your jawbone and cheekbone and plays an important role. Chewing: If you pinch your jaw (like I do when you're stressed), it's in danger of contracting. This is very common.
How do you get a headache? Pine triggers a chain reaction that restricts other muscles in the head and neck, including your underbelly (a group of muscles at the base of the skull) and your front and middle scales (neck) muscles, explains Reavy. "If the strength is too great, you may experience tension-type headaches," he says.
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How is a massaging muscle massage performed?
Place the pads of your fingers or knuckles on the muscle trainer. Then open your jaw as much as you can. Close your mouth and repeat the process until you feel the muscle. That's it.
"In the beginning, I would do it a few times a day, especially if you clench your teeth during stress," says Reavy. "This not only helps with tension headaches, but also with TMJ pain."
If you're skeptical, just try it – and know that I have not had a headache since leaving Reavy's office.
Here's how it's done:
- Apply light pressure to the muscle mass muscle that's where your jawbone hits your cheek.
- Open your mouth
- And shut yourself!