The masseter muscle is located at the angle of your jaw. As you clench your jaw you can feel this muscle contract. it’s primary action is to close the jaw but can also contribute to retracting (pulling the jaw backwards) the jaw.
Pain can refer to the ear, TMJ, over the eye and into the upper and lower teeth. It can be involved in tension-like headaches, cervicogenic headaches, ear aches or molar pain. Problem with this muscle can also be a cause tinnitis, ringing in the ear.
This muscle may be aggravated due to head posture, prolonged open jaw during dental surgery, habits of clenching the teeth, gum chewing, cracking hard candy.
Often overlooked systemic perpetuating factors are low thyroid function, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, electrolyte disorders, and depression.
To treat the superficial component of the masetter find a tender point using your thumb or ball then open up your jaw. Feel the tension under your thumb or the ball.
To relax the deep masseter partially open your jaw. Then attempt to jut your jaw out while using your hands to resist this movement. This causes the muscles that retract (pull the jaw backwards) to relax.
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.