PELVIC HEALTH & JAW TENSION-HOW THEIR CONNECTION WILL MAKE YOUR JAW DROP
On a visit to my osteopath many years ago, I was amazed when I found out a very valuable insight about the inter-connection between the jaw and the pelvis.
It seems initially surprising that when trying to resolve concerns in the pelvis, an osteopath will often treat the jaw (or vice versa) but this is because they know something we should all know.
The jaw and pelvis are physiologically connected and the alignment and relaxation of each deeply affects the other. This fact is definitely up there on my list of top ‘aha’ body awareness tips.
And for the many patients I share this concept with, it has shifted their body awareness forever by urging them to immediately ease up any tightness they’re holding unconsciously at these two major points in their body.
What is also startling is my clinical observation is that 90% (!!) of the female patients I see report having grinding, clenching or TMJ/TMD type concerns (and need to wear a night guard) while simultaneously seeking my support for pelvic health issues. This confirmed to me that the link between the jaw and the pelvis is real and more common than you’d think.
As a naturopathic doctor and Arvigo®Practioner who regularly administers external abdominal and pelvic massage techniques to women to decongest and align the pelvis, I always start each session now by reminding my patients to first release their jaw and remove their tongue from the roof of their mouth to make sure they can get the fullest benefit from the massage.
Especially since I experience jaw tension too, I wanted to really explore and zoom in on more details about the fascinating connection between the jaw and the pelvis and share more helpful insights with you about what we can do to better understand this concept and how to keep both of these vital areas healthier.
UNDERSTAND-how the jaw and pelvis are connected:
- Early Embryo connection-The genesis of the jaw and pelvic connection starts at the embryological phase. At about day 15 in a phase called gastrulation there are two depressions that form on an embryo. One becomes the oropharyngeal membrane that eventually forms the mouth and the other is the cloacal membrane that eventually forms the openings of the urinary, reproductive and digestive tracts. They remain connected even as the spine develops and grows creating a greater space between them.
- Fascial tissue link- the thin sheath of fascial tissue that envelopes and holds our inner body together and keeps us aligned includes a fascial line from the pelvis to the jaw. Osteopaths are experts is adjusting and realigning fascial tissue which is why they have always been in the know about the connection between the jaw and pelvis.
- Hint from Midwives and Doulas-when helping women give birth midwives and doulas will often give the common tip of encouraging women to sigh and relax their throat and jaw as a means to release pelvic holding and allow for easier labour. Natural childbirth expert, Ina May Gaskin even coined the term “sphincter law” to explain that if the jaw and throat are relaxed then the buttocks and pelvis will be too.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine connects the jaw and the pelvis through the meridian or energy channel of the gallbladder therefore when treating concerns in either region it is common to massage and use acupressure or acupuncture on specific points along the gallbladder meridian.
- Research Studies by dentists and physiotherapists are exploring the connection between the jaw and pelvis. Notably, a 2009 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics from Hanover Medical School in Germany concluded that temporomandibular joint dysfunction plays an important role in the restriction of hip motion experienced by patients with complex regional pain syndrome and this indicated a connectedness between these two regions of the body. See the study here.
- Anatomically similar shapes-if you visualize the structure of the pelvic ‘bowl’ topped with hips on either side that move and reproductive and urolgical openings at the base and then visualize the jaw, it is quite similar in structure with your jaw joints at the top and the large opening of the mouth at the base.
- Tell-tale Stress Reation- when your body undergoes shock, stress, trauma or strong emotions such as anger it is a a totally normal physiologic reaction to clench your buttocks, tighten you vagina and to clench your jaw. Can you relate? But learning to release that subconscious tension once the crisis has passed is what most of us need to focus on learning.
“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” Joan Lunden
ACTION STEPS- what to do if you have jaw tension especially if connected to pelvic tension?
- Jaw relaxation visualizations and meditations. I was amazed when I googled “jaw relaxation meditations” to see there are many resources available to guide you on brief contemplative exercises to unlearn the tension you may be holding in your mouth or jaw. Keeping a jaw tension diary is also key since we are all creatures of habit and you may hold you jaw tightly while working on your computer versus someone else who really holds during exercising.
- Massage the inside of your mouth. With clean hands and clipped finger nails, massage the inside of your mouth and particularly the large muscles at the back of the mouth that are responsible for opening and closing the jaw. You will be amazed how hard these muscles can feel, almost like bones. Simply holding gentle pressure there can start to release some of the muscle tension.
- Yoga poses that can integrate both the jaw and pelvis include squatting poses, cat cow pose & any poses that stretch the neck.
- Deep breathing will always bring you greater body awareness and remind you to open your jaw and breath more into your belly. A pro tip is to inhale for 4 counts, hold the inhale at the top for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold the exhale at the bottom for 4 counts before inhaling again. This technique immediately makes the breath deeper and more meditative.
- Consider a professional referral to an osteopath, cranial sacral therapist or pelvic floor physiotherapist for further support.
- Consider seeing a holistically minded dentist who can assess the function of your jaw and refer you appropriately to an osteopath or specialist to decrease jaw tension and may design a tailored night guard for you to prevent damage to your teeth from grinding or clenching.
- Sing (‘Let it go’ would be a great song suggestion!) and Sigh more often to get comfortable releasing tightness in your jaw and mouth.
- Set a timer when working (every 10-15 min) and make sure to check in to see if your jaw is relaxed and get up and move your body particularly your pelvis.
- Do a 20 min Walking meditation while being conscious of your jaw/mouth and pelvic movement patterns or tendencies.
- Remember simple daily awareness is always the best start.
Please leave a comment. I would love to know what ideas or inspirations this blog post gave you.
Tell me-Did you know there was a connection between your jaw and pelvis? And which action steps do you feel could help you release jaw tension the most?
Be a good friend- share or forward this to someone you care about who could really benefit from this blog :)
Wishing you Well,
Dr. Christine Matheson, ND
Hi, I’m Christine Matheson. I am a licensed naturopathic doctor (since 2001), an Arvigo ® Practitioner and a certified Kundalini yoga instructor. I have a special focus on natural and holistic solutions for women’s digestive, pelvic and fertility health with an emphasis on stress-relieving self-care strategies. My signature service is my 'Belly Be Well Program' which combines individualized naturopathic care with the benefits of Arvigo®Therapy (an external massage technique to align and decongest the abdominal and pelvic organs). I also offer naturopathic care for children and families. My goal is to help every patient shine in their lives through supporting their most vibrant health! www.ChristineMathesonND.com Follow me on Instagram Facebook
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DISCLAIMER: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only. Any health related information that may be posted is not intended to be a substitute for individualized professional medical advice provided to you by Dr. Christine Matheson, ND or another qualified health care provider. Information is general in nature and may be helpful to some persons but not others, depending upon their personal medical needs. Do not utilize the information in this blog to diagnose or treat a health concern without first consulting with a qualified health care practitioner and reviewing your individual medical needs. For instance, when making any changes to your diet, exercise or health regiment, you should always consult with a qualified health care practitioner first. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.
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