Jaw Training for an Even Tougher Neck

By on December 3, 2019

In a recent post, I discussed in detail the importance of training your neck, and I looked at multiple different ways you could do that. One of the reasons this is important is to prevent concussive injury during sports and fighting. If you have a stronger neck, then you can absorb more impact causing less whiplash in your head when you receive a blow. That in turn can prevent your brain from being shaken inside your skull!

Neck training with harness

But if you want to fortify yourself against impacts even further, then you should also consider training your jaw! Specifically, that means training the muscles of the jaw: the masseter, the temporalis, the medial pterygoid, and the lateral pterygoid.

Why Jaw Training Matters

Why is this important? For one, strengthening your jaw muscles will help to further prevent movement in your head and will act in conjunction with your neck muscles to keep you steady. To witness this in action, try clenching your jaw now and then turning your head from side to side. You’ll find that the tension in your jaw actually makes this more difficult!

This is actually something I have experience with! When I was in my early 20s, I was attacked by a group of guys on a night out. I was very drunk and didn’t do much to fight back. Instead I took about 8 punches to the face, which broke my cheek bone!

Try clenching your jaw now and then turning your head from side to side.

Despite this, I didn’t go down, and nor did I lose consciousness. Later on, the Nurse exclaimed that this was rather unusual, and the upon inspection told me that it was because of my abnormally prominent jaw muscles. So there you go! This training could just save your life. (That’s about the weirdest humble brag you’ll probably read this year…)

When you watch action movie fight scenes, one of the least realistic aspects is actually how they will take so many blows to the head and still carry on fighting. Training your jaw could explain how this might be possible, at least to some extent.

Keeping your mouth shut is also very important in contact sports to prevent you from losing teeth, or biting off your tongue. This can also help you to bite down on a mouth guard during training.

Jaw training concussion

While this is all important, holding tension in your jaw when you’re not training is actually a negative thing that can lead to headaches, neck pain, tooth problems, and heightened stress. Training your jaw muscles will help you to become more aware of where you might be holding tension. This will let you stay looser and more limber until the moment that you need to clench.

AND if you’re into this sort of thing, then training your jaw can potentially give you a more pronounced jawline and improve your overall appearance.

How to Train Your Jaw Muscles

There are two major ways we can train our jaws.

The first is by using isometrics. As you know, that means contracting the muscle against resistance to prevent it moving. This time we’re going to be using our hands and/or something we can bite down on.

Try opening your mouth and as you do, hold your fingers just beneath your jaw to prevent letting that happen. Hold this for about 6 seconds using a fair amount of effort. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times. Do the same thing twice more, but stopping at a slightly more closed angle and a slightly more open angle. Now do two more trying to move your mandible out to the left and then out to the right. Surprising just how much of a range of motion you have here, isn’t it!

Jaw training

The same protocol can then be used by resisting your jaw as you attempt to push it out forward, and as you try to close it. The latter can be tricky to do with your fingers as teeth as sharp… so another option is to try biting down on something. Make sure that it is soft enough so as not to harm your teeth though – you can actually invest in various different products designed for this precise purpose, such as “Jawrsize.”

Other Options

While this will work well and might be worthwhile for boxers and other professional fighters, this type of training is likely to feel a bit superfluous to the general population. Fortunately, simply chewing tough food can be very good for your jaw, and this is something that many of us have lost due to the modern diet’s high prevalence of soft, processed foods. In the wild, we would have chewed on bone and lots of fibrous roughage.

Try and get some steak back in your diet, eat plenty of fibrous vegetables like purple sprouting broccoli, and don’t cook everything into a mushy pulp!

Simply chewing tough food can be very good for your jaw

Oh and make sure you chew your food enough before eating it! This is also a tip that can help you to avoid overeating, which is useful if you’re trying to lose weight.

Chewing gum is another option, but keep in mind that this can have some other less-desirable effects. For example, it may encourage the production of stomach acids that can then burn the stomach lining.

Oral Posture

Oral posture is another important consideration. This means keeping your tongue resting gently on the roof of your mouth when you are going about your day or at rest, which can activate the correct muscles and help to bring the mandible into the proper position. Poor oral posture – especially in young children – can lead to the development of elongated jaws and narrow smiles (this was first noted by Dr. Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in the 1920s). Again, Western diets appear to be the culprit. Mouth breathing is also somewhat responsible.

Closing Comments

Jaw training martial arts

I don’t recommend that anyone start spending a lot of time doing jaw isometrics unless they’re a boxer who gets hit in the face a lot. But positive habits like chewing tougher food and correctly positioning the tongue in the mouth may have a number of impressive benefits, including athletic and cognitive.

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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