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TMJ and Seasonal Sports: Preparing Your Jaw for Winter Activities

If you enjoy seasonal sports like skiing, snowboarding, or ice hockey in the winter months, you might be familiar with how much stress these activities can place on your body. However, one area that is often overlooked when it comes to preparing your body for these winter activities is your jaw and its role in causing or complicating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and dysfunction.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint is a large and complex joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It’s one of the most utilized joints in the body, being used in both speaking and eating. Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ is susceptible to injury, wear and tear, and strain. This can often result in TMJ pain, which can cause everything from stiffness in the jaw to toothache-like pain.

When it comes to seasonal sports, TMJ pain can be more of an issue than you might think. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice hockey can place significant strain on the joints and muscles in your face, which can exacerbate TMJ issues.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Issues

Here are a few signs that you might be experiencing TMJ pain and discomfort:

  • clicking or popping noises that occur when you open or close your mouth
  • pain in the jaw joint, upper or lower jaw, neck, or temples
  • difficulty and/or pain when chewing
  • persistently tired or sore jaw muscles
  • limited range of motion
  • locking of the jaw
  • swelling on the side of your face

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis.

Tips for Preventing TMJ Issues when Engaging in Winter Activities

There are a few things that you can do to help prevent or reduce the risk of experiencing TMJ pain and dysfunction when participating in winter sports:

  • Wear a Mouthguard: Protecting your teeth and jaw is important particularly when it comes to sports where you can take a fall or a hit to the face. Wearing a properly fitting mouthguard can help to avoid any unnecessary strain on your jaw.
  • Use Proper Technique: When engaging in winter sports, like skiing, snowboarding, or ice hockey, it’s important to use the right technique to help reduce the strain on your jaw. For example, when skiing, be sure to keep your head level and avoid jerky head movements that can cause your jaw to move excessively.
  • Warm up Properly: Before engaging in any sort of winter activity, be sure to appropriately warm-up your body. Gently stretch your jaw and it’s surrounding muscles to help reduce the risk of experiencing TMJ pain. Stretching your facial muscles will also help to reduce the risk of muscle strain.
  • Take Breaks: If you are used to engaging in long durations of any winter sport, be sure to take breaks to rest your jaw and stretch your muscles. Prolonged use of the jaw and surrounding muscles, such as during a day of skiing or snowboarding, can lead to muscle strain and TMJ pain.
  • Seek Treatment if Needed: If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, be sure to seek medical attention. There are many treatments available to help alleviate TMJ pain and dysfunction, such as physical therapy, orthodontic treatment, or surgery in more severe cases.


Participating in winter sports can be a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors. However, the strain that these activities can place on your jaw can also cause or exacerbate temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction. Taking steps to protect your jaw, using the right technique, and stretching properly can all help to prevent TMJ pain and discomfort when engaging in seasonal sports. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, it’s important to seek medical attention in order to receive appropriate treatment.