Some people believe I must have had TMJ issues myself to have made it a professional focus, but that is not so.
I have not personally experienced the kind of issues most of my TMJ patients have.
This path started in a craniosacral therapy class I took in 2013 that focused on intraoral techniques. My teacher, Ryan Hallford, thoughtfully included some massage techniques for the internal jaw muscles, where the much of the jaw-pain-causing muscle tension mostly resides.
Most craniosacral therapy teachers don’t teach this…and most people who suffer from jaw pain are unaware that muscles inside their mouths contribute to their misery in a big way.
When that day of training was over, I (even though I had never experienced jaw pain), felt a new sense of ease and spaciousness around my TMJs.
I was impressed.
When I returned to my practice after training, I emailed my clients to find someone with jaw pain to practice my new skills on. Deborah volunteered.
She had had jaw pain and tension for 20 or more years, starting when she was in her 20s, when she began clenching due to stress.
I practiced what I had learned on Deborah, and she said it made a big difference. Eventually her jaw pain was no longer an issue.
That made a big impact on me. I had learned a skill that could make a difference in just one session, over time relieving the suffering that a receiver had experienced for 2+ decades.
Over the following years, I offered TMJ sessions to many. I learned about the variety of problems people experience relating to their jaws: pain, tension, clicking, popping, inability to open wide, jaw locking, jaw deviating from the midline, teeth not meeting evenly.
I learned that the jaw muscles tend to revert somewhat after one session, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after a session, and that multiple sessions are often needed to retrain the tension pattern that the body has been holding into a healthier, pain-free pattern.
I understood that TMJ issues rarely occur by themselves unless due to accident or injury. Most people who have TMJ issues also clench and/or grind their teeth. Posture, alignment, and stress play roles. Many also have neck pain.
There are other factors, and there’s a lot we don’t know yet.
I learned an alternative to daytime clenching that I teach my TMJ clients. I call it Relaxed Resting Mouth Position. Practicing it often enough that it becomes the new default is part of retraining the tension pattern.
I learned that very few massage therapists work inside the mouth, and that those who do tend to be trained in either craniosacral therapy (as I am) or neuromuscular therapy. Even among physical therapists, not many specialize in TMJ work.
I was fortunate enough to study in Canada with John Corry, a massage therapy instructor with over 20 years of experience working with jaw issues and later teaching TMJ Mastery.
Offering TMJ Relief sessions satisfied my desires to learn in depth about something, to integrate applicable bodywork skills, and to sequence those skills to create sessions that relieve tension and pain and leave my clients feeling relaxed and cared for.
It’s always my goal that people leave my office feeling better than when they came in. TMJ Relief sessions do that.