I am a bodyworker, and one of my specialties is TMJ Relief. I help relieve jaw pain due to muscle tension. I’ve been doing this since 2013.
It has not been safe to work in people’s open mouths since March. I’m a one-woman practice without the resources of a dental office to acquire state-of-the-art air cleaners and make a large investment in PPE.
Meanwhile, the need for relief is even greater due to the stresses of COVID and the economy, working unergonomically from home, and poor sleep. People are clenching and grinding and damaging their teeth more than they did before COVID.
So…not wanting my skills to go to waste, knowing I could relieve some of the suffering, I spent the summer developing a Zoom course for people who would like to learn how to relieve their own jaw pain, offering it for the first time in the fall.
I’m offering it again in February 2020. There are 4 classes a week apart in the course. You will learn to replace the clenching habit with Relaxed Resting Mouth Position — you can accomplish this during the 4 weeks of the course with some helpful hints and daily mindfulness.
You will learn the quickest stress reduction technique available, documented by a neurobiology lab.
You will get helpful information and direction about stopping a night-time grinding habit. It’s more involved than daytime clenching and usually takes longer to eliminate, yet people have done it so we’ll model them.
You’ll learn how to work on yourself, releasing tension in both your external and internal jaw muscles.
You can learn more and sign up on my website. You can also join my email list for future announcements, join my Facebook group Word of Mouth for people seeking solutions for jaw issues, take a jaw pain quiz, schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation or a 30-minute Zoom consultation.
The class starts February 4, and the size is limited, so if this interests you, please sign up early to ensure you get in.
Not everyone has jaw pain, but nearly everyone knows someone who does suffer from it. I would be much obliged if you would share this post if you know someone who’s suffering who would at least want to know about this offering.
I did a craniosacral therapy session last week on a friend whom I hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. I went to his home since he has a massage table. We wore masks during the session with the window open.
The session was successful. He’d taken a spill on his bike, hit his head, didn’t seem too badly injured, went home…and noticed that he just didn’t feel right for a couple of weeks and called me. He felt shifts and releases throughout the session.
I sent him my Post-Concussion Self Care guidelines. If it was a concussion, it was minor, but any time the brain gets sloshed via head injury, craniosacral therapy can help.
Anyway, he’s a great cook, and he invited me to share a mid-afternoon meal of his homemade green soup outdoors on his patio. Of course I accepted!
It was so delicious, I want to make it myself.
Here’s how he described making it: 1. In a stockpot, sauté an onion in olive oil. 2. Chop 2-3 different bunches of greens and stir into onions and olive oil. Choose from chard, spinach, kale, beet greens, collards, dandelion greens, arugula, or whatever leafy greens you like or have on hand. 3. Add 1 teaspoon salt. 4. Add about 6 cups water, cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. 5. When cool enough to handle, pour into a Vitamix and blend. 6. If purée is too thick, add water to thin to desired consistency. 7. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
After heating it, he added chunks of avocado, a handful of pumpkin seeds, fresh garlic chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Oh, and bird peppers! I tried one. Too hot for me.
Yum. The amazing thing is how simple this recipe is. Of course, you could fancy it up by adding garlic, herbs, lemon juice or vinegar, and veggie or chicken stock instead of water. You could add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream or some croutons, or grate Parmesan on top.
I urge you to try it plain first. You may like it a lot, just that way.
I’ve dropped my prices on craniosacral therapy, from $120 for 75 minutes to $100 for a single session.
I’m offering a package of three such sessions for $250 and a package of 6 for $500.
Well, selfishly, doing craniosacral therapy is really good for me. I enter a healing state that (what else can I say?) feels really healthy.
I’m also planning to get certified in CST, which is a big deal, consisting of an essay exam, an objective test, and a 2-hour examination of my ability to use the techniques and describe why/what/how I’m doing them by a skilled, experienced teacher/examiner.
It’s a big deal, and I need to practice, practice, practice.
What’s in it for receivers?
Pretty much everyone gets deeply relaxed, maybe even more relaxed than they can get by themselves. It’s great for letting the nervous system move into parasympathetic dominance, where healing, tissue repair, and optimization occur.
Beyond that, little releases occur throughout the body throughout the session. Sometimes the receiver notices, sometimes not. It seems to depend on how sensitive they are to their own sensations and how accustomed they are to being deeply relaxed and aware at the same time.
If you need sleep, you’ll fall asleep. Good. You need it. CST also helps with insomnia.
And…how relaxed can you get and still be awake?
I advise newcomers to CST to get three sessions. It’s so different from other forms of bodywork, it simply will not be what you expect. It’s more subtle and deeper, and it often lasts way longer than a massage does, in my experience.
I recommend checking in by doing a body scan before and after each session to notice what’s different. Tune into your whole self, too.
For me, years ago, I noticed that I felt calmer (which was unfamiliar at that time in my life). It was like CST helped me discover a quiet, still place inside me that was present and aware, not doing anything, simply being.
I had no idea how busy my mind was, until it wasn’t.
I came to think of this state as being more centered in myself. That’s part of the healing state I enter when working. I also feel a lot of energy in my body, especially in my hands. I experience relaxation and releases too.
CST works really well when people get it regularly. A regular experience of relaxing and releasing restrictions works cumulatively over time.
Hence the 6-session package. Two of those would net you monthly sessions for a year, costing you (if bought separately) $83.33 each. That’s a deal.
After three years of monthly sessions, I had cleared so much baggage (aka restrictions), I felt like a new person: aware, present, resilient, positive. I went on to make some major changes in my life, for the better.
I never thought about becoming a craniosacral therapist myself until 6 months after I finished massage school when a new friend who was a craniosacral therapist asked me why I wasn’t one. I started taking classes 3 days later, in early 2013.
Besides blogging here, I have had a private bodywork practice in Austin, Texas, USA, for years.
One area that I specialized in was relieving jaw pain. I developed a 5-session protocol (done over 4-6 weeks) that helped hundreds of people over the years. That work included working in people’s open mouths to release tension in the small, hard-to-access internal jaw muscles.
Well, COVID put an end to working in people’s open mouths in a small room, in a office suite that treats medically vulnerable people.
I thought about giving it up.
But when I thought about all I’d learned over the years about treating jaw pain, and how much pleasure I got when people felt the difference between tense jaw muscles and spacious ones, I looked for a way to continue to offer the revelation of a spacious jaw that so many patients experienced.
Plus, at this unusual time in history, stress levels are high, which translates to more clenching, grinding, tooth damage, and pain.
Current Austin stats: over 22,000 cases, 287 deaths. The number of daily positive cases has declined from over 700 in June to less than half that since late July.
Austin appears to be doing better than other large Texas cities.
I am still not doing bodywork.
That just doesn’t feel safe any more, especially given that more than half the sessions I gave included working inside the mouth.
That’s very risky in these times.
So…I’ve been working on creating an online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain. It will be a 5-class series offered on Zoom. I hope to get going in September. ]
The coolest thing about the class is that I don’t know that it’s ever been done before: a course that teaches people with pain and tension in their jaws to work on themselves, working inside their own mouths to release tension in the never-touched but overworked internal jaw muscles.
That is often a revelation, based on my experience of having given over 500 TMJ Relief sessions and consultations since 2018. (I started doing intra-oral sessions in 2013 but switched from paper to electronic records in 2018 and haven’t sorted my records from 2013 through 2017.)
The course will also address factors that predispose people to experience jaw pain: strain patterns, stress, and habits such as clenching and grinding.
Changing these habits will keep jaw pain from progressing.
I’ve worked on so many people (who’ve paid way more than this class costs) who have lived with jaw pain for a decade or longer.
This kind of suffering is optional.
Please help spread the word.
The first class will be limited to 8 students and will be offered at a low price, so I can learn and tweak It as needed.
I will post more here when I’m a bit further along in course development.
Anyone with jaw pain who’s interested can also check out my Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Relieving Jaw Pain/Dysfunction.
When I started doing distance sessions at the beginning of the COVID lockdown in March, I would feel energy pouring out of my hands just as I would when doing bodywork with someone in my office, even though the receivers were sometimes in other states.
I didn’t know what to do with it at first with no body in front of me, but I definitely understood it was an indication of me being in a resourced state for healing.
In the 27-hour intensive course I just completed in Long Distance Healing, the instructors called this phenomenon “energy hands”.
It’s fairly common for bodyworkers to experience this energy flowing out their hands, especially when the type of bodywork they practice includes deep listening with their hands, as do craniosacral therapy and Reiki, or if they are also trained in some types of yoga or meditation that cultivate this kind of awareness.
(By the way, distance healing is not craniosacral therapy, which always includes physical touch, and some craniosacral skills transfer over to distance healing.)
With my distance receivers, I started placing my energized hands on the area of the body the receiver had identified as wanting attention.
Paying attention is the most basic and profound expression of love.
Usually an identified area is experiencing some form of disconnect from the healthier parts of the body. It’s not necessary to recall the original reason for disconnecting, and in fact the mind may get in the way, but it may help to understand that your intelligent body-mind system was working to protect the rest of you when something happened (physical or emotional or both) in that area, and you may not need that protection any longer. The energy involved in keeping the identified area separate and contained can be freed and returned to the whole system.
Receivers said they would begin to feel changing sensations in the identified area: for example, the area would change shape or temperature, pain would lessen or disappear, tension would soften, and sensations would become more diffuse, possibly move to another area, or even bounce around (“Hey, you’re finally looking at me! Yippee!”).
Although our bodies are constantly healing themselves below our level of awareness, in these sessions, receivers often sense the healing as it occurs.
To be clear, I don’t heal you. Your own cellular intelligence is the healing power. I show up for you in a resourced state (built on years of yoga, meditation, and studies in how healing works), which your system can entrain to. I show up with presence, curiosity, and support, as an ally and a witness, with an intent (shared with you) for healing to take place, but no agenda about how that will happen, because it’s your body, your history, your awareness, and your healing. I just facilitate.
I have not yet worked with anyone who did not experience a change for the better. I’ve worked with people trying their first energy healing session after Western medicine was unable to explain or treat their issue without drugs, and I’ve worked with people who are deeply aware somatically.
We practiced with partners during the training, placing energy hands on our partner’s shoulders and having them say when they felt them and whether they wanted the touch to be more intense or diffuse, and then disconnecting and switching partners.
We also did this with the adrenals, which pump stress hormones into our systems, since most of us are feeling some stress and anxiety because of COVID, the economy, our culture, the future, etc.
When my partner held my adrenals, after about a minute, I felt my autonomic nervous system down-regulate into a deeper parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. That’s another benefit of working with energy hands. I can put my energy hands inside your body, not just on the skin.
I want to do more distance healing sessions. These sessions are collaborative, empowering, use a lot of dialogue, and are based on consent. I cannot do anything to you that you do not allow.
If you’re wondering what it’s about and would like to try it, I’m offering sessions on a donation basis for a limited time. Look at what it’s worth to you, what you can afford, and donate accordingly.
I know some readers are skeptical. After half an hour, if you don’t think it’s doing anything for you, we will end the session without your donation.
Update, September 17, 2020: I stopped doing intraoral manual therapy in March 2020 due to COVID. I’m resuming my in-person bodywork practice in Austin, Texas, one day a week on Tuesdays. I’m offering TMJ Relief sessions but not working in people’s mouths until COVID no longer poses a threat.
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort pivoting to teaching online. It’s risky to work in people’s mouths, and yet the need is even greater. The stresses of the pandemic and the recession (and all the related adjustments) have people clenching and grinding even more.
I’m offering a course, Self-Care for Jaw Pain, on Zoom. The next series of classes are slated for February 2021.
Check out my website, maryannreynolds.com. If understanding causes and finding remedies for your jaw pain appeals to you, please sign up for my class. Space is limited.
So far, since I began doing intraoral work for jaw issues in 2013, I’ve had several clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who had previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths to try to relieve their TMJ symptoms.
They had seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.
These clients told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.
These are small, sensitive, hard to access muscles, and they may be key muscles to soften to release jaw tension. It takes patience to reach them and gently influence them to soften and lengthen.
You can see in the image below that there are two heads to the lateral pterygoid muscle. The superior head attaches to the articulate disc between the mandibular fossa of the temporal bone and the condole of the mandible. Tension in this superior head pulling the disc anteriorly may create clicking or popping sounds on opening and/or closing the jaw.
It is important to address this early on to prevent irreparable damage. Even when there is damage to the disc or the tissue behind the joint, intraoral manual therapy can relieve tension.
It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. The medial pterygoids are also major internal pain-causing culprits, and the external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play important roles in jaw tension and pain (they can have trigger points and taut bands within the muscle, and also be in a long-term state of contraction due to clenching and grinding).
I’ve learned through trial and error that one 75-minute session provides relief (sometimes tremendous relief, as in experiencing a pain-free and spacious feeling around the TMJs), but it will probably not last.
That’s often the issue with bodywork: the soft tissues tend to revert toward their previous tension until we change that muscle tension pattern through timely repetition.
For longer-lasting relief, 5 sessions in 4-6 weeks with support for habit change and self-care homework can retrain the jaw muscles to lengthen and relax.
If jaw tension or pain resulting from jaw tension is your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your TMJs (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), please seek a practitioner that works intraorally on the pterygoid muscles.
I make my living doing advanced integrative bodywork in Austin, Texas. I use four main techniques: craniosacral therapy, biodynamics, Zero Balancing, and orthopedic massage. As standalone treatments or integrated as needed, depending on my clients’ needs and preferences, these techniques can accomplish the following:
Since 2013, I’ve been developing my skills and expertise in offering relief from jaw tension, pain, and dysfunction. I’ve studied with Ryan Hallford, craniosacral therapist and teacher from Southlake, TX, completed multiple craniosacral courses from the Upledger Institute, and studied with John W. Corry of London, Ontario, long-time massage therapist and teacher specializing in jaw and vocal issues.
My intent when working on jaw issues is to create as little discomfort as possible. This means that any pain experienced should only be productive “hurts-so-good” pain. I check in frequently, and my sessions end with deep relaxation. I can also help you start changing the habits that contribute to jaw discomfort.
I offer several ways to be of service to people with jaw issues:
You may schedule a 75-minute TMJ Relief session, which can be right after the in-office consultation if that time slot is available on my online scheduling program.
You may decide to join my TMJ Relief Program, designed to create long-lasting relief by offering 5 sessions in 4-5 weeks, along with education, exercises, supplement recommendations, links to videos, and more. Many patients try one session and then decide to do the program.
You need to be in Austin to receive a session, unless you arrange my travel elsewhere — please call to discuss if interested. The Facebook group is open to people anywhere who are seeking to address their jaw issues. The educational units (click Units on left panel to view) available for the group include teaching relaxed resting mouth position, jaw exercises, self-massage, relaxation techniques, terminology, sleep positioning, and more.
If you’re interested in joining the group, click this link, answer the three questions, and you’re in!
Every year since 2010, I’ve written a post summarizing the year on this blog. Here are the highlights for 2018.
My posts from years past about healing my injured sacroiliac joints have gotten a lot of comments in 2018 from people who are also suffering, and that has brought the most gratification this year, to know that documenting my healing journey offers hope to others.
To summarize that journey, I saw many practitioners in various bodywork modalities for a couple of decades before finding one who truly understood what it would take to heal the injury. I followed her advice, and it worked. My final post, Sacroiliac joint healed!, published in 2017, includes links to all my previous posts on the topic.
In 2018, I had 94,239 visitors and 127,235 views. This is down a bit from 2017, even though I wrote more posts in 2018. I’m attributing the downturn in visitors and views to social media burnout.
Social media has been a fun new toy — and more people are seeking balance in their lives. I’m actually fine with it, as I’m seeking balance too. Writing fewer posts but having them be more germane to how we can live better lives works for me. Plus, I’m a bodyworker and wellness advocate by trade. Less text neck, eye strain, forward head posture, and sitting are better for your health. I want you to be healthy!
I wrote 32 blog posts in 2018, totaling 16,319 words, averaging 510 words per post, a bit shorter than I typically have written.
Of the posts I wrote this year, these have gotten the most views (listed newest to oldest):
The most-read post in 2018 was one first posted back in January 2014, How to drink water with lemon and preserve your tooth enamel. It’s gotten the most comments of any post I’ve ever written. Believe it or not, almost 5 years after it was first published, 40,960 people read that post in 2018. I hope they/you are preserving their/your tooth enamel!
At the end of 2018, I have 292 followers on WordPress, 92 on email, and 605 on social media. Thank you!
The most popular day and hour for reading my blog is Sunday at 2 pm.
And now (drum roll), where are readers from? Well, it looks like this:
all of North America except Greenland
all of South America except for one tiny country north of Brazil (French Guiana)
all of Europe except Svalbard islands
all of Asia except Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan
most of Africa except Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia
I imagine there are some tiny island nations that don’t appear on the map with no readers
As always, it astounds me how connected the world is now because of the internet.
One of my intentions for 2019 is to improve my writing. I’d like to write a monthly post but have each be more interesting, compelling, and shareable.
I’ve been writing about TMJ pain and dysfunction on my Facebook business page and on my Austin, Texas, USA, private-practice website’s blog. Now I’m sharing an index of these posts here on my “big blog”.
If you have TMJ disorder and want to read any of those posts, here are the links.
I view TMJ issues as not just biomechanics, although it plays a role. This issue has social, emotional, historical, biological, cognitive, and spiritual aspects. I am very aware that some people, especially in the mainstream medical and dental fields, may believe it’s unnecessary or even laughable to provide information on so-called “woo-woo” or “fluffy” topics like essential oils, yoga, and the throat chakra for people who are suffering from jaw pain and dysfunction.
So let me share how I came to write this series of posts. Instead of just going to experts (and I have done that), I also asked women who suffer from this problem what helps, and they told me. And I believe them!
Since nine times more women than men experience severe, chronic TMJ issues, this is super valuable information to share.
I want the world to know that TMJ treatment is available beyond night guards, pain meds, and surgery, and there are so many options for self-care: massage, exercises, training yourself in new habits, reducing stress, improving posture, acupressure, nutrition, stretching, journaling, meditating, and more. I’m working on designing programs to evaluate and treat specific TMJ-related issues. More later!
If you bump into this limited and limiting attitude, please share this post, and please share in the comments your experiences and any other resources you have found helpful.