A few weeks ago, I had an appointment with David Reavy, a Chicago-based physical therapist known for his work with professional athletes in the NFL and NBA. As he poked and prodded my body during the initial evaluation, he asked me a question that honestly kind of shocked me: "Have you been getting headaches lately?"
Indeed I had been-bad ones. So bad that neither Tylenol nor Advil could relieve the pain that felt like a rubber band squeezing my head, and was making it difficult for me to sleep, work, or generally function like a normal human adult.
"Uh, yeah," I replied. "How did you know?"
It turns out that my shoulders, neck, and especially my jaw were super tight-so tight that he could tell just by looking at my posture. And when your body stiffens up to that degree, it can lead to unrelenting tension headaches.
What happened next absolutely blew my mind: He made my headache disappear in about 10 seconds. All it took was one deceptively simple, ridiculously effective exercise to release the tension from my jaw: a masseter release.
But first: What is the masseter muscle, and how can it give you a headache?