Hi team, I thought we might talk about some stuff that you may NEVER have thought of before. It’s the links that the body has in our myofascial and neural lines of the body, and this is all about the jaw and jaw clenching and its effects on the strength of your gluteus maximus. Being a part of the face, the jaw and the jawline are often perceived as a marker of beauty, but this facial feature is more than just a mere accessory. Our jaw is part of the alimentary system, as well as our defense system when we go into what is termed our VENTRAL-VAGAL social engagement which is part of Porges Polyvagal Theory.
Clenching the jaw is a primal act and if you think about it, survival of having it traumatically removed is part of keeping our species alive. The same primal move it probably accessing our FREEZE reaction, one that comes from DORSAL VAGAL SHUTDOWN which generates from about 500 million years ago and can be linked to immobilizing emotionally also.
When the FREEZE component occurs it reaches along the spinal nerves and dampens the full chain of muscles that will propel us forward, gluteus maximus being the greatest in this action, the hamstrings involved as well but to a lesser degree.
Our Jaws in the Modern Day
Moving forward 500 million years where we live in a world of ongoing stress, increased hyper-vigilance, high acid systems we see more and more people you clench or grind their teeth. These habits may have varying reasons, like stress, anxiety, or different types of arthritis. Too much jaw clenching may result in cracking of teeth, TMJ dysfunctions, headaches, tension and pain in the neck and head, and farther afield including the paraspinal muscles and muscles of the lower back. It is surprising how stress and/or chronic jaw clenching can have such a significant impact on our glutes, but that is the truth of it. There is an easy way to test this, but you must first have someone else around to help you.
- Lie down completely relaxed, and bend your right knee up, with your foot planted firmly on the floor.
- Have your friend attempt to lift up your right foot, while you use your glutes to resist.
- Now, clench your jaw, and have your friend attempt to lift your foot once again. Try to resist.
You will notice that your glute strength has been reduced significantly while your jaw is clenched. Jaw clenching not only affects the muscles near the face, it tends to reproduce right down to our lower bodies. People must be mindful of their jaws, as a bad jaw can lead to a multitude of pain and tension all over the body.
You could also watch the full demo of this exercise in the YouTube video below.