The Gift of Self Care: Muscle Therapy & Orthodontia

Hello everyone! I am really excited to write this blog as it is based off of our monthly podcast with the theme of “Give the Gift of Self Care”. This month I interviewed Aeon Oliver-Terry who is a massage and muscular therapist and it will be interesting to pick her brain and learn how muscles and bones (orthodontics and muscle therapy) work together and how the two worlds collide!  Aeon is from Australia (which means yes, a super cool accent) and she has been in the body work industry for 11 years now. She has done everything from the spa world to the medical side of it all so she really has a great knowledge and passion for what she does! 

What is bodywork?  Are there different types?  There are tons of different types but just to scratch the surface she names cranial sacral (spine and nervous system), trigger point, touch for health, visceral, there is a whole asian style of massage that enters into the acupuncture acupressure world etc.. there are so many she could go on and on. 

One modality is not going to be a “silver bullet” for everything.  Aeon started in massage, but branched out because she wanted to help people from several aspects.  So there is an interesting theory that if you change the bone alignment then the muscles will just go along for the ride. But Aeon has seen the opposite happen. You can get in a habit of movement that makes certain muscles get really tight when you make a certain movement over again, say the step you take, one portion of your muscular control will be less than the other. So, the muscle that is getting tighter and stronger has the ability to pull your bones out of alignment. So, unless there is some type of intervention (massage therapy) these muscles will continue to stay tight and pull on your bones. 

So what can happen if someone doesn’t use a type of intervention? What if they have no idea something is out of line or is shortened? What are the repercussions of leaving these types of things alone?  Aeon explains that the list is very long depending on what you haven’t fixed. But overall it can affect your posture, which then affects your breathing, which affects your sleep, which affects your mood, affecting your every day… it affects everything!

As one muscle kind of shortens or lengthens or starts compensating then has a domino effect. There is definitely a narrowing and elongating of the face, a lot of TMJ stuff goes into the breathing again, sleep issues, snoring, sleep apnea, that’s a long list as well.  Are you catching how we keep coming back full circle to the fact that it is all connected? Crazy, huh! 

Next we talk about how popular it is in our culture right now for all of us to sit in front of TVs, sit in our cars, sit in front of computers and this usually leads to our shoulders kind of rolling forward – it may seem like that’s completely unrelated to Orthodontics but talk a little bit about what you see with the shoulders and rolled forward – what are some of the things that are happening to people’s breathing and faces? Aeon said that when your shoulders are rolled forward the space that you have to take a breath is really shortened and that is the first spot next to your neck ends up craning out which again puts stress on your airways. Headaches happen a lot because there is a shortening and brevity at the back of the head from the head craning forward and the shoulders rolling forward. A lot of neck pain will happen, jaw will narrow, or you end up clenching a lot, etc. 

When the neck comes forward you have the face crane forward there are breathing issues. People, then, open their mouths to breathe instead of breathing through their noses so when they open their mouth to breathe their tongue hangs down where it shouldn’t be and you start to get some of the orthodontic issues that people come to see me for like their front teeth don’t come together or they have narrowing of the arches or they have a longer face height than they would really want. 

People may even develop gummy smiles because of it also. So, these physiological things are occurring and people aren’t necessarily focused on the breathing at all and while, yes, orthodontics with appliances on the teeth can help that’s why we see so much relapse in Orthodontics is because their habits don’t change. That’s when you have to have someone like Aeon intervene because she can actually help with some of the things that created the situation to begin with. 

At the end of this interview Aeon showed me an exercise that we have posted on social media so that all of you can try it at home! This exercise helps to strengthen your tongue and cheek muscles to create a better passageway for breathing. You can find this exercise on our Instagram highlights and Facebook page! Thanks for logging on and we hope you have a fantastic Christmas and New Year! See you all in 2020!

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