H. Michael Long

Habits are behavior patterns which we repeat so often that they become ingrained. They often begin at an early age. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing them. At that point, our habits are said to be unconscious, and they are hard to break!

A forward head posture is common in TMJ sufferers. This is when the head is carried too far forwarded in front of the shoulders. Your head weighs approximately 10-12Ibs.--the weight of an average bowling ball! For each inch the head moves forward it gains 10 lbs. with respect to the strain on supporting structures. Not only does this strain the neck, back and shoulders, but it also effects the jaw muscles and can even change your bite.

There are other postures that are detrimental to TMJ sufferers:

Stomach sleeping so that the head and neck are in a strained position

Caring heavy shoulder bags or purses

Cradling the telephone with your shoulder

Resting your chin in your hand

Working at a surface that is too high or too low

Watching TV with your head at a sharp angle, such as when lying in bed with your chin on your chest

Poor posture can throw the head and spine off balance in relation to gravity. This places unnecessary wear and tear on muscles and joints. Posture has a “chain reaction” effect up and down the body. Head position will especially affect your chewing muscles. Because muscles are stronger than teeth, when they are strained they cause the teeth to move, crack or chip. These poor postural habits can also eventually cause pain in the muscles of the jaw, head, neck, back and shoulders.

Taking notice of your posture and making changes to correct it can only benefit tight, tense muscles and pain.