After reading a blog post from Lisa White about clenching her teeth while lifting weights, I decided to do a quick blog post about jaw pain. Many of us clench our teeth or jaws when stressed or while working out. This causes the muscles in the jaw to clench and load the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which can lead to dysfunction and even headaches if done chronically. We have many muscles that work together to help us open and close our jaw as well as move it side to side and even thrust it forward as well. These muscles also help us to chew our food and talk as well. Below find a cutaway picture of the jaw and the main muscles that "run the show". The jaw itself is made up of two main bones the maxilla (the upper jaw) and the mandible (the L shaped lower jaw) that come together in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is cushioned by a small disc that's similar to the discs in your spine except that it is shaped like a backslash on your keyboard and its anchored by ligaments. This disc should allow the top of the mandible to glide gently over it without grinding or clicking, but many people that have degeneration or have injured this joint have grinding, clicking, or popping sounds emitted upon opening of the jaw.