TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) is a pretty common condition for artists and I’ve struggled with it on and off for years. TMD rears its ugly head in the form of jaw pain, ear pain, headaches, neck stiffness, and more, and can be caused by stress, poor posture (especially when working), jaw or neck/shoulder injury, and/or dental problems. Basically it can be caused by a variety of situations and come on at any time. Sometimes it is referred to as TMJ, which is the acronym for the temporomandibular joint, but no matter what you call it, living with TMD or TMJ is horrible.
My TMD came on recently and it has really knocked me down these last few days. I know why I got it. For the past few weeks I’ve been working really long days, sitting either at my drawing table hunched over painting or at my computer sitting in my desk chair that I know I need to replace with a better ergonomic one. Couple that with squeezing in hours at night painting ornaments and it’s a recipe for TMD disaster. I’ve learned about myself that I clench my jaw when I work. I don’t know I’m doing it, but when I take notice and intentionally release my jaw it is amazing how rigid I am holding my face. I know a lot of artists who say they hold their breath when they paint and that can also cause you to hold your face or neck in a rigid manner that can cause TMD. It’s hard to avoid this nasty pain when your line of work dictates these mannerisms.
I’ve been focusing on my recovery and taking the steps and behavioral modifications needed to start feeling better and I thought I’d share with you some of the info I’ve found, and resources and techniques that are working for me in case you find yourself in a similar situation.
*Heat Pad for your Neck:
The Original Bed Buddy
The Mind and Body Neck and Shoulder Wrap (I just ordered this, I think it looks amazing)
I started doing these exercises daily. WARNING: You look really weird when you are doing them, but they work. There are many websites with tips and exercises, but these two are my favorite ones: HERE and HERE
*Back and Shoulder Massage:
The AMAZING Backnobber. I was skeptical when I first saw this “s” shaped piece of plastic, but holy cow it works wonders! Mostly because you can reach pressure points, muscle knots, and tight areas of your neck and back all on your own and anytime you need. This thing is probably the best secret I’ve come across in years (thanks to my husband’s friend who recommended it). If your TMD is brought on by work and posture then you need the Backnobber.
I’ve sung the praises of yoga for years, but it goes without saying that if there’s a pain there’s a yoga move to help. Here are my favorites for the neck, shoulders, back, and yes – sciatic area because a lot of our posture problems stem from there.
(Website and Photos Reference: Walk Jog Run)
Thread the Needle:
(Website and Photo Reference: Yoga International)
BTW – this whole POST on yoga for Sciatic pain is amazing with a ton of awesome stretches
(Website and Photo Reference: Pain Behind the Knee Cure)
Another great article on Sciatic pain yoga stretches here
Wishing you wellness today!