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TMJ Disorder and Exercise

Posted Dec 21 2008 10:49pm 1 Comment
If you have TMJ Disorder, you've probably had to curtail some of your activities. It's amazing how much the jaw muscles/joints are involved in so many activities! If you're a non-exerciser, this is a mute point, but if you are a go-getter, exercising can present problems with TMJ Disorder.

AB Exercises

You've probably discovered that doing crunches can be quite painful to your jaw. Does this mean you get out of doing abs? Only if you want to. There are abs you can do that don't hurt your jaw, they just aren't crunches or sit-ups. Who likes doing those, anyway? Even doing The Plank can hurt your jaw due to gravitational pull.

One gimmicky piece of equipment, The Abdominizer (it looks a bit like a lounge chair) does allow for ab exercises that don't hurt the jaw. This is probably because your head is totally supported.


If lifting weights, BE SURE to hold your mouth OPEN and breathe. Closing your mouth while doing weight training can lead to clenching. The same holds true if using stretch bands instead of weights.

Watch Out for Jarring Activities

Horseback riding only has one drawback...if you get jarred, your two jaws may smack together.

Hiking is fine. Watch the weight of your backpack, however. Too much weight may cause you to clench while struggling uphill.

Biking? Watch the jarring. Same with jogging or running. The treadmill is a good friend for you, especially if it has a shock absorber.

Water sports like swimming are fine, but be careful if you water ski.

Aerobics classes are fine if the jarring does not bother you.

Yoga and Tai Chi are wonderful, but not the moves where you must be inverted.

You should have no trouble with bowling, golfing, rowing, tennis, softball, badminton, ice skating (unless you fall on your behind and jar yourself!).

NO NO Exercises

I would not encourage you to play football, rugby, soccer, boxing or take up wrestling or contact sports in general. Really, most of this is up to the individual and the degree of TMJD one has. As your jaw improves, you can easily resume activities you may have had to give up.

In general, having TMJD is not an excuse for not working out in some way.

For more ideas on dealing with TMJ Disorder, see You Can Conquer TMJ: Ideas and Recipes, (Moonlight Mesa Associates, 2006) available at or
Comments (1)
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Thanks for the well written article. I don't like to run outside because it hurts my knees and joins and I can't stand it. However, my family bought the sole f80 treadmill a while ago and I have to agree with you that some treadmill has less impact on your legs. I like to workout indoor also.
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