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Dr. Mingus’s Guide to Preventing TMJ During Intense Physical Activity

Anyone who engages in intense physical activity is at risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This concern is particularly relevant for athletes, but anyone who plays a sport or exercises regularly can experience problems with the joint. To avoid this issue, it helps to understand the common causes and symptoms of TMJ, as well as the best ways to prevent it. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what TMJ is, why it develops, and how you can keep your jaw healthy.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, which is the small joint that connects your jawbone to the bones in your skull. This joint allows for movement of the jaw for speaking, eating, and other activities. When TMJ occurs, the joint can become inflamed, dislocated, or displaced, which can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving the jaw.

What Causes TMJ?

TMJ can be caused by a number of factors, which can make prevention more difficult. Common causes include injury to the joint from overuse, overextension, or trauma. Other causes are related to muscle tension and stress. Poor posture and clenching or grinding the teeth can also contribute to TMP. In some cases, the disorder is related to other health issues, such as arthritis, dental problems, or jaw misalignment.

Signs You May Have TMJ Disorder

TMJ can manifest as a range of symptoms, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Facial swelling or inflammation
  • Toothaches

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a dentist or medical professional so they can evaluate and diagnose your condition.

Prevention of TMJ During Intense Physical Activity

The best way to prevent TMJ during intense physical activity is to take care of your jaw and muscles. Pay attention to your body during exercise and stay conscious of your jaw position. Try to relax your face and jaw while you’re working out, and try to avoid clenching your teeth or opening your mouth too wide. If you experience any jaw pain or discomfort while engaging in physical activity, take a break immediately, and consult your doctor to determine the cause. Practicing stress-relief techniques and finding ways to help to reduce overall tension (such as yoga, meditation, or massage therapy) can also help minimize the risk of TMJ disorder.


While TMJ is a common problem for those who engage in intense physical activity, there are things you can do to help prevent it. Being aware of the symptoms, taking steps to minimize tension and stress, and being mindful of your jaw’s position during exercise can all help reduce the risk of developing TMJ. If you are experiencing jaw pain or discomfort, it’s important to see a professional for an evaluation and diagnosis. By taking these steps, you can help keep your jaw healthy and pain-free while staying active.