Countless times while working with my pelvic dysfunction patients, I have witnessed that while releasing their fascial restrictions vaginally, the patient’s jaw will be moving ever so slightly from side to side, presumably shifting to find it’s new home and mirror it’s counterpart. Of course, I point out what I see so that my client has a better awareness of how the pelvis and jaw are intimately related. To me, this isn’t strange to see as I am keenly aware of the mechanical connection between the two. Most people though, are a bit surprised by the fact that these opposite-ended body parts have any relation at all.
Despite their being on opposite ends of the body, a few studies done by dentists and physiotherapists show evidence that improvement in mobility of the jaw can somehow unleash tension in the pelvis and vice versa.
How could these two very different ends of the body be connected? What might be the reason one body part is mirroring another so closely? It might seem illogical or bizarre, but there are actually a few reasons that might explain the connection:
1. Embryological Development: The connection begins during embryologic development at around day fifteen. In this stage, called gastrulation, two depressions form on the dorsal side of the embryo which become the oropharyngeal membrane (goes on to form the mouth) and the cloacal membrane (goes on to form the openings of the urinary, reproductive and digestive tracts). The spine grows between them and the two remain connected from their early beginnings as one being in the embryo.
2. Emotions, Our Avenue of Expression: Both the jaw and pelvis are known to be our avenues of expression – on physical and verbal levels. Think about what happens to your jaw when you are holding back from expressing yourself. Suppressed anger, fear, and negative emotions can cause you to clench and grind your teeth, or build stress in the jaw. Similarly, think about what happens to your body when you are in a stressful situation, can you feel your abdomen and pelvic floor muscles tense up, or your buttocks clench? Years of sexual repression and unspoken feelings can be held in the body as tightness and pain.
3. Fascial Connections: Fascia is the connective tissue that supports and connects every cell, muscle fiber, nerve, blood vessel, and organ. It provides support and mobility for our entire body. A fascial line can be traced from the jaw down into the pelvis.
4. The Cranial Sacral Connection: Another notable connection between the jaw and pelvis is concerned with the biomechanics of the cranial bones and the dural tube, which is a dense sheath of connective tissue that houses the brain, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. Tensions and imbalances in the jaw can have an effect on the membranes connecting the dura to the skull and affect where it is tethered below in the sacrum. Uneven pressures and pulling in the sacral area can, in turn, affect the cranial attachments and lead to pain, dysfunction, and other symptoms on either end of the craniosacral system. This uneven distribution can cause a multitude of symptoms across all body systems – from your cardiovascular to your neurologic, musculoskeletal, gut, and on.
Do you feel it?
Are you someone who suffers from: TMD (Temporomandibular joint disorder), jaw tension, clenching, grinding, pain, jaw locking or clicking? Do you also happen to have pelvic, lower back, SI joint, or sacral pain and dysfunction? Perhaps you may not have notable pain or tension in the pelvis, but you may experience bladder/bowel problems or sexual dysfunction. If you have one or the other but not both, you may want to pay closer attention to your mechanics. Is your left hip restricted with mobility? And if so, is your left jaw a little tighter? If you answer yes to any of these situations you may want to focus on relaxing your jaw and your pelvis. If your symptoms are on the mild side you may be able to do a few simple stretches and self care as seen below.
1. Relax the pelvic floor musculature: Come into a low squat as if you are going to poop in a hole in the ground. This pose is a known yoga pose called Malasana. If your ankles are too tight, you may need to roll a yoga mat to rest your heels on and place your feet on a downward incline. Keep hands in prayer position and try to stay in the pose for 2-3 minutes focusing on relaxing the perineum and breathing.