The temporalis is the muscle that you feel over your temples when you clench your teeth and as you chew.
The muscle can be tender to touch and can refer to the upper teeth, over the eyebrow and on the side of the head and sometimes to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
It is responsible for closing the jaw (when both contract), moving the jaw from side to side (when one contracts) and a little bit of retraction (pulling the jaw backwards)
It is often affected by excessive gum chewing, jaw clenching, trauma to the muscle and head position.
In my practise I often use active release technique (ART) or acupuncture to specifically treat this muscle in addition to addressing the causes of this muscle being over worked
To perform your own self treatment of this muscle (self myofascial release) take your thumb or a ball (the smaller the ball the more focused the pressure can be). Pin the tender point down. You don’t need to crush the muscle to do this. Mild to moderate discomfort is fine. Since this muscle fans out from its insertion, once you have pinned the muscle out direct the ball/thumb in different direction.
To add a stretch to it simply open up your mouth. If you deviate your jaw to the other side you will add a little more stretch the the muscle.
You may have noticed when you wake up in the morning that your spine is more stiff than it was before you went to bed.
I’d like to explain why this happens.
Why is my back stiffer in the morning?
The intervertebral discs between our vertebrae are made up of multiple, strong, fibrous layers called the annulus fibrosis. The annulus encases the nucleus pulposus which is a jelly like substance. This jelly substance is attracted to water.
When we wake up in the morning our spine is approximately 19mm longer than it is at the end of the day. This is because when laying down the force of gravity on our spine is less than the force of attraction of the water to the nucleus pulposus. Therefore, water is drawn into the intervertebral disc.
This increase in water in the discs reduces the ability of the spine to bend forward by between 5 and 6 degrees. Bending stresses on the spine are increased by 300% and stress on the ligaments is increased 80%.
Sadly, the muscles don’t seem to compensate for this stiffness by restricting the lumbar spine’s bending range of motion. Therefore, when we bend forward this increased stress on the spine increases our chance of aggravating or injuring our spine.
Thankfully, approximately 50% of increased disc height is reduced within the first hour of the day.
Should I workout in the morning?
Based on this information it is highly recommended that if you want to exercise avoid spinal based movements that involve flexing the spine or bending within the first hour.
For those with chronic lower back pain this advice holds true as well. Do your best to minimize the amount of bending that you perform within the first hour of the day. Plan your day out, the night before, so that the first parts of your day involve less bending and heavy lifting. Later in the day these activities would be more appropriate.
When you are injured the degree of pain is not proportional to the degree of damage. There are more variables that are involved than tissue damage. The body, brain, interprets how dangerous the situation is. It looks at the present situation (ie, physical, emotional, environmental, psychological variable), past injury situations, and it looks at the future consequences of the injury. It evaluates the situation and then outputs what degree of threat it is.
One person may stub their toe and just keep on going. Another person, who had previously broken their toe, may be writhing in pain.
For some, they may tend towards anxiety, depression, or they may catastrophize the situation. This increases the danger and thus more pain will be experienced. A draw back to this is that these “Danger in Me” thoughts cause people to avoid what they need to do. This slows their progress in rehab, reducing their enjoyment and quality of life.
My job, with my athletes, is to reduce the anxieties or worries of their pain. Also, I am to help put themselves in situations where they can work the injured area in a “Safe in Me” environment. Building themselves up to the point where they can enjoy their sport, activity or life again.