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I don't think shakuhachi playing is causing my temporomandibular joint pain, but it isn't helping. I have had to reduce my practicing this week. I also went and got a massage and have been ramping up the yoga, but sadly, having an office job puts stress on the shoulders and neck, which is translating to the jaw for me at the moment.
Anyone have suggestions? It may indeed be that I'm doing something incorrectly with my jaw when I'm playing, like transferring tension to the jaw to compensate for embouchure or something.
Hi, I am sorry to hear you have a TMJ issue. I am not a shakuhachi Pro, I am sure somebody can give you a much better explanation. I know I was moving the jaw trying to find a better way to make the sound. I still do, more subtle though.
TMJ, however, is a part of my profession. It is a very complex joint with extreme precision of movements. Anything can through it off including excessive tension during shakuhachi playing. I doubt that shakuhachi was a primary reason for pain. It could be the trigger though.
Did you have any kind of TMJ therapy in the past? If not I'd suggest you talk to a TMJ dentist and have an exam...
I can think of a couple of things that might help.
1. As much as possible throughout the day, concentrate on keeping your tounge on the roof of your mouth, specifically the hard palet behind the teeth. This is beneficial in meditation in keeping the mouth from getting dry, but it also has the side effect of making it rather difficult to press the choppers together and grind them. Obviously, if you find that it makes things worse, stop immediately. As mentioned above, this is a complex joint.
2. While you are sitting at your desk, or anywhere, concentrate on pulling your chin in without bringing your forehead forward. This will straighten the neck, realxing and stretching the muscles in the back of the neck and the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the front while strengthening deep muscles. If it is difficult for you to visualize this, try standing with your back and the back of your head against the wall. Pull the chin in towards the chest without letting the back of your head leave the wall. You ARE NOT trying to simply let the head drop. You are trying to lengthen the neck.
3. Finally at the end of the day when you get home, get a long towel, like the kind you take to the beach. Roll it up from top to bottom, so it is short (rolling it from one side to the other makes it long, I hope that makes sense). Lay it on the floor and sit on the very bottom of it so your tail bone it just on the end. Then lie back so the towel is directly in the center of your back beneath the spine. Just lie there for five or ten minutes or even longer. With the towel in the center of your back the shoulders should have room to drop to the floor and stretch the pectoralis minor. Although the anterior deltoids contribute to rounded shoulders, the pec minor attaches to the shoulder blade from the ribs and is responsible for the vast majority or drooping posture. While you are laying on the towel it is a good time to stretch the neck again as described above, or you could just do some deep breathing and try to relax.
I hope that helps. I am not a doctor or anything, but I did work as a trainer for some time and have a good understanding of anatomy as it relates to muscles, bones, and posture. My understanding of organs it less complete, as evidenced by the state of my liver.
Not sure if you are still having TMJ problems but if you are then go and book yourself in to see a Myofascial Therapist, one of their BIG areas of expertise is exactly that. The Myofascial Release course at my college has a huge area of study specifically for the jaw - they approach it from inside and outside the jaw. Honestly it's their area of expertise.
Find a reputable massage clinic and enquire from there