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Rocky Balboa and tinfoil hats: The temporalis muscle


Rocky Balboa and tinfoil hats: The temporalis muscle

A couple weeks ago, I did a video on the masseter – your main chompy muscle –
and I went into the lost art of jaw-stretching.

Well a couple days later it occurred to me:
Individual muscles never act alone (that’s why they’re called muscle “groups”).

Generally for any specific action you have one muscle that’s bigger/has better leverage
doing more of the work, and one or more muscles that are smaller/have poorer leverage
attaching from a different angle to assist the movement and increase precision.

For example, the prime mover when extending the hip is glute max (your butt cheek),
with the hamstring and adductor groups acting as synergists (they help).
Depending on the specifics of a movement you can emphasize one muscle over the other,
but you can’t completely isolate them.

Well, the same thing is going on with the one movable joint in your face – the jaw.
When it comes to closing the jaw, your masseter is like the glute max and the
temporalis (muscle covering the area around your temple) is like the hamstring.

Since the muscles share a function, they share fascia.
(Remember that – it’s a pretty good rule of thumb.)

When temporalis is upset with you, you might get headaches, toothaches, or other
weird jaw pain that doesn’t go away when you poke the muscles you think are responsible for it.

As for how to poke, smash, and stretch the temporalis, watch the video above.
If you didn’t see the video, here’s a link to it.

Poke the masseter (here’s more info on that),
then follow it up towards your temple.
That whole region up the side of your head – from the outside edge of your eyebrow
all the way back to the top of the ear – is covered by the temporalis.

Also, there isn’t any muscle tissue on the top of your dome,
but you do have fascia all around (and an aponeurosis) that’s worth poking.
You may find that releasing fascial kinks under your scalp
frees up other muscles throughout your head and neck.
It’s weird, but try it.
Everything’s connected, after all.

Yes, you may look like you’re in tremendous cranial discomfort,
or attempting to communicate with aliens or something, but it works.
If anyone asks, just say you left your tinfoil hat at home.
(Also, why are you in public?)


Stretching the temporalis starts off just like stretching the masseter.
Tilt your head back, then pull the jaw straight down toward the floor.
Now tilt your head to one side, keeping your jaw where it was at.
We’re stretching a big chain of fascially-connected muscles here –
sternocleidomastoid, masseter, temporalis, and scalene.

Let your jaw hang open, relaxing as much of the face as possible.
You might look a little bit like Rocky Balboa during his fight with Creed, but that’s okay.
Again, be prepared for weird looks if you’re doing this in public.

Make note of any especially-tight spots you noticed, and poke them accordingly.

As Porky Pig says, that’s all folks!


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