The current pandemic means that many of us are spending much more time sitting down. We’re sat in front of computers, on never-ending conference calls, watching TV, or simply just looking at our phones more than usual. So, it’s not surprising that many of us are suffering physical complications like a stiff neck, painful shoulders, tension in the jaw and back pain as a result of our recent change in habits and movements.
While you may be well aware of the benefits that exercise can have for your body, you may not have considered a similar fitness routine for your face. But, when you think about it, the muscles in our faces often get put to work just as much (if not more so) throughout the day as the muscles in our bodies. So, it makes sense to take care of them.
Many people are now waking up to the benefits of facial workouts, using treatments like massage and face yoga to tone the muscles in the face. Drawing from the principles of pilates and yoga, these exercises are akin to resistance training. Simply using facial expressions and the manipulation of your fingers through self-massage, you can stretch, strengthen and tone the muscles in the face.
What is facial pilates?
One form of facial exercise that is becoming increasingly popular is facial pilates. This type of holistic treatment can help to relieve pressure and aches, specifically in the jaw, neck and shoulders.
To find out more, we spoke to Carme Farré, pilates teacher and creator of FaceToned® Facial Fitness. Her natural facial pilates routine uses exercises and stretches to tone the muscles to lift and rejuvenate the overall facial appearance.
“Anatomically, back muscles extend from the spine up to the neck and the skull. So, adding exercises for neck, jaw and face makes sense if you are suffering from tension. By targeting these areas you can restore length, relax and strengthen the cervical spine muscles, and release tension in the jaw, both of which are imperative to improve mobility.”
Carme says that FaceToned® is unique in terms of its technique because it applies pilates principles when exercising the face and neck muscles. It’s thought that, after a few sessions, clients feel not only improvement in their appearance, but the pains and discomfort have also disappeared.
Breathing and stretching at the end of each session is also very important, says Carme. “Normally, clients have poor posture, which puts pressure on the lungs preventing the diaphragmatic muscles from activating. Proper breathing allows space for the diaphragm to expand and only then it is possible to start strengthening the upper back.”
Simple facial pilates exercises
Whether you’ve had problems with your jaw, perhaps due to stress or from grinding your teeth at night, or you simply want to up your self-care routine, you could benefit from facial exercises. You can learn some simple exercises to reduce tension easily and practice them whenever you need to – at any time of the day.
Here, Carme walks us through three short FaceToned® routines for easing tension and stress in the shoulders, neck and jaw.
It’s best to do these exercises on clean skin. So, before you begin, wash your hands and cleanse your face, then apply a serum or moisturiser.
Lower facelift (for neck, cheeks and jowls)
- Lengthen the neck upwards and bring the chin up slightly holding your collarbones with your hands, and slightly pulling down.
- Now bring the chin forward and slightly up so to hold the top lip with lower teeth, then try to touch the tip of the nose with your lower lip.
- Now, lift up the corners of the mouth and pulse up and slightly down as if smiling for eight counts. Hold this position for eight counts and then relax.
- Perform three times.
- Make sure that you are sitting upright, with your ribs relaxed and core engaged.
- Lengthen the neck upwards and place both hands behind your neck with your shoulders wide open.
- Push neck backwards against the hands without moving any other part of the body – make sure the shoulders stay relaxed.
- Repeat 3 sets of 8 reps, hold between reps.
- Slide the jaw forward and backwards very carefully.
- Then, open and close the jaw as your fingers run along the back teeth, make sure you stop when you find a tender point.
- Repeat 3 times for the count of 8.
Give face yoga or facial pilates a try today. Simply swap 20 minutes of scrolling on your phone for a scented candle and a face workout – you won’t regret it.