On the virtue of slownessThe creation of the Slow Movement is refreshing.  It’s great to hear it told from the perspective of a self-proclaimed recovered “speedster!”  In this video, Carl Honore explores the concept of slowness and the many virtues of slowing our pace and connecting with our own inner-tortoise!

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world’s emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there’s a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.

source: http://www.ted.com

Masseter muscleOne of the main reasons why so many people suffer from a tense or aching jaw is because the muscles of the jaw are innervated by the same nerve that innervates our flight or fight response when we are stressed.  The Temporalis, Masseter, and Pterygoid muscles are used to bite, chew, and swallow.  They are all innervated by the  nerve known as the Trigeminal nerve or fifth cranial nerve.  It has many functions but we are going to focus mainly on its connections to the Jaw and the Reticular Activating System.

The Reticular Activating System or RAS is the system used to filter input as our brain takes it all in.  It helps to sift through what is a normal occurrence and what we need to respond to.  This is the part of the brain that is affected by psychotropic drugs such as LSD.   When we are under a lot of stress and likely not getting a lot of sleep our Trigeminal nerve is getting over-activated.  This then can create a tension in our Jaw muscles.  The muscles being tense create an abnormal pressure on the TMJ joint causing the pain many people suffer from.  To put it simply, stress can cause a tense jaw.

We all hold stress differently.  When it is held by a tight clenching of the Jaw and face muscles it can cause grinding of the teeth at night, TMJ joint dysfunction and can even lead to a syndrome known as “Lock Jaw.”  Lock Jaw is as the name implies when the jaw becomes locked either open or closed and can go on for months or longer.

So, it is  very important to act quickly if you are feeling pain in your jaw, as stated above, if left unattended it can lead to years of pain, rehabilitation and costly medical bills.  Certainly, speak to your dentist or doctor if any pain is felt in the jaw or upon awaking.  It is also important to try to manage your stress that may be causing tension in these areas.  Please see my article on pillows and bolsters as it can be helpful to sleep in good alignment when managing jaw issues.

Dr John Upledger,  who has been a pioneer in Cranial Sacral Therapy(a light touch healing modality) created a self help technique to help manage (along with help from a practitioner) jaw issues.  His International Organization known as the Upledger Institute is an organization dedicated to healing modalities of many kinds for many different ailments.  Cranial Sacral Therapy has been used to help Vietnam Veterans recover from post traumatic stress disorder as well as Autistic Children to have a better quality of life.  Please see related articles.  In this video, Jasetherapy explains and illistrates this simple technique, which can help aleviate tension in the temporal mandibular joint.

Sinus massage techniquesThe strange, erratic weather patterns of extreme cold to spring-like temperatures are a new phenomenon to which our bodies are adjusting.  Unfortunately, our sinuses take the abuse as a result of these temperature shifts. This kind of  weather can be rough for anyone with sinus issues no matter which season it is.  In addition, the changes in temperature in the winter can be extra taxing on our respiratory system as it is constantly dealing with being indoors with dry, hot radiators to the chilly outdoors.

Often these subtle areas of our bodies are more difficult to sense and are unattended to until there is an issue. It is good to care of the sinuses before they feel discomfort.

Regularly stimulating the sinus area can be very beneficial in preventing stagnation and congestion.  The circulation caused by regular massage can help assist the sinuses with  lymphatic flow and a more optimal level of drainage.

Gently take the finger pads of your fingertips and apply light pressure to your sinuses around the orbit of the eyes under the eyebrow.  Do so not too deeply, but just enough so you feel the effect.  Circular movements work well.  Go from the middle(near your nose) to the outer part as it drains better this way.  By simply tracing the bones that circle around the eyes (i.e. the cheekbones and the forehead) you will touch upon many tension-relieving areas in the sinuses as well as some vital acupressure points. You can also try this technique using your thumbs gently. Your fingers should not get too close to the eyes but always make sure your hands are clean to avoid any infection. This technique can help relieve sinus pressure as well as tension headaches.  Getting circulation to these areas will help clear them and bring vitality to an otherwise stagnant area.

As you make your way around the eye you will probably feel areas that feel really good from the pressure you are placing there- feel free to pause and stay there a few moments.  By stopping and resting there you are giving that area some much needed attention.
As with any of these techniques if you feel pain or too much pressure stop.  This is meant as a light touch technique to help increase circulation. It is helpful to do this in the shower or the bath as the steam helps aid in the drainage.

Above is a self-help technique.   I chose this great video from Youtube to demonstrate how you can use sinus massage to help benefit a child.  I particularly agree with the way she checks in with him to see which techniques he likes best and what he may not have enjoyed.  This creates a great trust and dialogue with a child and gives them the ability to make choices in their healing.  It also encourages and fosters an ability for them to become proactive in their own healing and not simply a passive patient.