I have recently attempted to get going with my speed-walking routine but I get a lot of neck/jaw pain. I have bruxism and usually wake up with real tense jaws/neck (despite wearing nightguards and also trying to do relaxation practices). So as soon as I get going, I feel the awful rising tension in my neck, I can hear pulsating and my own breathing in my ear, and in short, it sucks. It usually leads to tension headaches.

Yes, I live with high level of stress, but it was for this very reason that my therapist had suggested doing daily exercises as a way to combat stress. But neck/jaw are notoriously tough places to relax and you can't exercise when you feel like you're wearing an armor of muscles.

There are way too many different books and views about what to do and I'm confused and I don't want to get hurt. Any suggestions, books, websites, articles, videos, whatever for jaw/neck that you know from personal experience or your background knowledge, that work, are much appreciated.

  • 1
    Since you have just started a new exercise program, you may want to run these symptoms by your doctor first. Although this could simply be related to your posture or form, neck and jaw pain resulting from exertion could be a sign of angina. That is why the old adage of check with your doctor before starting an exercise program is important. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


Some of the yoga poses listed below should help with some muscle relief. Some may seem to be more shoulder-muscle related but should help to relax the neck and jaw muscles.

When you start to feel the muscle tension begin, take a deep breath in, then as you exhale, relax your shoulders, as if someone is trying to press the shoulders down away from the ears. Do this 5 times. If the tension isn't too bad, bring the shoulders up on te inhale, and drop them down on the exhale.

Scalp massage will also help with the jaw. Take 3 extra minutes in the shower to massage the scalp all over.

Eagle Arms - find a comfortable seated position (on the floor or a wooden chair). Breathe in and reach your arms to the sky. As you exhale, bring your arms down and wrap your right arm under the left like you're twist-tying your forearms at elbows and wrists. Lift the elbows so they're at the same height as the shoulders and take your thumbs further away from the face. Stay here for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side. *there are a number of YouTube videos that can guide you through this as well if a visual aid is more helpful

Camel Pose - stand tall on your knees. (Ears, shoulders, hips and knees are stacked in one tall line). Place the palms of your hands on your low back (a little higher than where jean pockets are). Relax the shoulder. Squeeze the elbows close together. Slowly bring your gaze up until you feel a long stretch in the front of the neck and chest. Keep your teeth together but not clenched. Stay here for 5 long breaths. Big inhales will help you feel the stretch.

Head tilt - find a comfortable seated position. Reach your right arm away from you (if you're on the floor, with your right fingertips on the floor, walk the fingers away from the body). Drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Stay here for 5 breaths. Repeat on other side. Once the muscles warm up, between sets, alternate dropping the chin to the chest and lifting the chin to the sky. When lifting the chin, keep your teeth together but not clenched.

Downward dog - start on all fours with your hands on the floor under the shoulders and the knees on the floor under your hips. Curl your toes under, lift your knees off the ground and lift your hips up. Bend your knees as much as you need. Try and relax the shoulders. Press the hands into the floor to bring your chest closer to your thighs. Relax your head. Shake it yes and no. Separate the teeth relax the jaw.


As this can have chronic implications if not corrected, I feel an obligation to respond.

Clinically I commonly see variants of this presentation.

Note: Without a full assessment by a physical therapist you will not have the full picture of what's going on, however this is most common culprit.

In your case the muscles between your shoulder blades (scapular retractors) along with tight pecs (chest) are altering the resting position of joints; specifically your jaw (temporomandibular joint or TMJ).

For every inch your head extends forward, your neck has to support an additional 10 lbs.

These imbalances cause “Kyphosis” (a rounded spine) and “Forward Head” and

Symptoms Include

  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Chronic pain syndromes or increased pain sensitivity.
  • Psychological factors: these may contribute, as with other chronic pain syndromes.
  • Muscle overactivity
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw)
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
  • You may also have toothaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Ways to Correct it

  • Chest Expansion - Stand up straight maintaining a correct posture alignment. Interlace your hands behind your back, your knuckles should point to the floor. Now, lower your shoulders down and while taking a deep breath push your arms away from you (see image). This helps loosen tight chest muscles which are a known factor in developing a forward head.

  • Shoulder Blade Pinches - Sit upright on a chair with your arms by your side. Lower your shoulders down and then ‘pinch’ your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for around 30 seconds before you relax. Repeat up to 10 times several times a day. Slouching forwards stretches and weakens upper back muscles, another cause for a forward head, this exercise helps to strengthen them which will help your head go back to it’s proper alignment.

  • Nose Nods - Lay down on the floor flat on your back with your legs bent, knees will be up. Make sure your nose is facing straight up to the ceiling (or the sky if you’re outside!). While making sure to keep your neck still, slowly nod your head forwards until you feel the ‘double chin’ come. After just a second or two bring your head back up so your nose is pointing straight up once again. This exercise helps train your brain into making this movement a habit as apposed to bending your neck forwards while doing things like texting on your phone.


Have you considered Simhasana, the Lion's Pose?


The pose is all about stretching out the jaw, neck and chest, so it seems like it would be ideal for you.

Begin by kneeling on the floor with knees shoulder-width apart. Cross your right ankle over your left and carefully sit back on your heels. Make sure your feet are pointing outward and your calves are kept flat on the floor. Lift your chest up just enough that you are not slouching and your spine is fully straightened, but don’t over-arch your back.

Now, place both your hands on top of your knees. REMEMBER: don’t slouch as you do this. Widen your palms and press them firmly against your knees. Splay your fingers like a lion’s claws. Inhale deeply through your nose.

This next step is the focal point of Simhasana, but it can also be quite challenging. If you struggle here, be sure to practice your movements in coordination with each other. So, simultaneously do the following:

  • Lower your jaw and open your mouth as wide as possible
  • Stretch your tongue out and curl its tip down toward your chin
  • Open your eyes wide, looking upward
  • Focus your eyes in between your eyebrows or on the tip of your nose
  • Contract the muscles at the front of your throat
  • Activate your hands, splaying your fingers further out

Now, hold this position and exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel the air pass over the back of the throat as well as the contraction of your throat and neck muscles. You should make a distinct “haaaaa” sound as you exhale.

Don't forget to give your best lion roar. In fact, roar two of three times then retract your tongue. Relax your face, mouth, eyes, throat, and hands. Cross your ankles the opposite way and repeat Simhasana.

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