What to Do When Opening the Mouth Is Difficult

February 1, 2017

“Enjaw” Yourself with an Out-of-the-Box Strategy

You open and close your mouth multiple times every day. It’s a simple action until you have restrictions in the jaw. Eating, talking, breathing, moving in general are all affected by the ability to open and close the mouth.

When something isn’t working, it’s human nature to repeat the same things more often and more strongly. However, when you do something over and over in the same way the brain recognizes this as a pattern and the more we do it the stronger the pattern becomes. Fortunately, the brain is literal in the sense that if you reverse the pattern in some way that’s unfamiliar it won’t recognize it as the same thing. When opening and closing the mouth in an unfamiliar way it is problematic because there aren’t many options for doing the movement differently.

The usual pattern for opening the mouth is to lower the bottom jaw while the rest of the head is stationary. Moshe Feldenkrais was a master of out-of-the-box thinking so he reasoned if the lower jaw wouldn’t move then keep it stationary and move the upper jaw and skull instead. Having no experience with this movement the brain doesn’t put on the brakes and stop the movement. Once the jaw opens and closes a few times in this way it has forgotten there was a problem. If you then go back to the original movement, the range and/or the quality will often change significantly.

If you have serious concerns about your jaw it is recommended that you consult your dentist and/or doctor before doing any movement lessons. However, if your jaw holds tension without any other precipitating causes or concerns here is a little “trick” to make opening and closing easier.

Embrace Feldenkrais as part of your daily routine

My book, Wake Up Your Body and Brain is not meant as a “cure all”. It is a place to start a process for physical and mental improvement and give you a taste of what’s possible. It’s now your job to pursue this work and embrace it as part of your daily routine. The Feldenkrais lexicon contains thousands of Awareness Through Movement® lessons addressing every conceivable aspect of movement and improvement. Many of these lessons are available via the internet as on-line classes or prerecorded audio and video lessons. I invite you to explore and experience the possibilities. You will be glad you did! Buy your copy of "Wake Up Your Body and Brain" from Amazon, or download it today

Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner Functional Movement Specialist will help you to boost your capacity to move effortlessly. With a background in special education, yoga, functional movement, and music, Sandra integrates this knowledge with the latest brain research to help you find solutions to your personal needs that are effective and long lasting. If you are interested in more information or would like to make an appointment, call Sandra today at 250 862 8489. 

The Feldenkrais Method® created by physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, PhD., combines precisely structured movement sequences with the latest advances in brain research; it will help you recover from specific areas of injury such as the neck and shoulders or to improve fluidity and ease in sports, recreational activities or life. Join the ranks of such notables as actress Whoopi Goldberg, cellist YoYo Ma and the members of the Canadian Men’s Alpine Ski Team.

Tags: Feldenkrais, back tension, body tension, Wake Up Your Body and Brain, Awareness Through Movement, Awareness Through Movement® lessons, self care, Feldenkrais lessons, limited mobility, limited range, achy muscles


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Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, and Functional Integration® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ™ and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher ™ are certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild®.