Meet Your Masseter
By Tabatha Black LMT
The masseter muscle is the primary muscle of mastication (fun fact: it is only found in mammals), pound for pound this is the STRONGEST muscle in the human body. It is located along the sides of the jaw, just behind the cheek. It is responsible for clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth. As a result it is one of the most common locations for trigger points. It is an accomplice in many cases of bruxism (Latin for grinding your teeth), TMJ syndrome (jaw joint pain), & acne, if it isn't the “cause” it is usually a contributing factor to pain in and around the jaw and cheeks.
This muscle favors torque over speed, slow but incredibly powerful. Combined with the temporalis muscle, and a few other smaller muscles, most people can generate about 68 kilograms of force between their teeth!!!
Is your jaw a bit tense? Most of ours are, I'm sure you can imagine how massaging this muscle tissue can greatly reduce and alleviate tension. When it's irritated the masseter muscle can cause and/or contribute to these problems:
Tension Headaches- there is a clear link to most between headaches and jaw tension. Mainly caused b
y the temporalis muscle (around your temples, where most people reflexively massage when they have a headache), however the masseter is greatly involved and often neglected.
Earaches and toothaches- Trigger points in the masseter can radiate directly into a tooth. Subsequently tightness in the masseter may compress the eustachian tube contributing to ear aches.
Tinnitus- (ringing in the ears)- There are many underlying causes that contribute to this condition. It is most likely not caused by trigger points and tightness in the masseter, however it could be involved and should be a consideration with this condition.
Bruxism- or grinding & cracking of molars with many signs of wear and tear.
TMJ- dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, pain and lack of movement is most commonly associated. Ranging from minor to severe with interference in sleeping, eating, ear aches and tinnitus.
Acne- Stagnation of blood flow and lymphatic fluid is common with tightness in the muscle tissue and this can result in breakouts
As you’ll hear most massage therapists say “everything is connected.” There is a strong correlation between your jaw and your neck, any serious effort put into helping your jaw should also be turned toward your neck as well!
Facial Gua Sha is the perfect addition to your self care regime if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Facial Gua Sha is a massage technique that focuses on releasing the muscle tissue of the face and neck, promoting circulation, lymph drainage and is even a natural face lift!! We can also give you some tips and tricks for after care at home to keep that masseter loose.
Happy Chewing 😀