Facial exercise is the best way to relax the face muscles naturally.
You might not feel it now, but you too probably have tension in your facial muscles. You may have carried that tension in your face for decades so you don't even notice it anymore. With time that tension will make your skin look saggy and wrinkled.
Read how facial exercise works and can help you relax muscles in your face.
This article is continuation to 5 Reasons Why Facial Exercise Works. If you have not read that yet, you might want to take a look at it.
Many facial exercise proponents will tell you that facial exercise tones and builds your facial muscles. They say that when toned, the muscles will raise up your sagging skin. But... it is not that simple and that is actually almost opposite to what really happens.
Most of the experts opposing facial exercise are happy to point out that your facial muscles get a full workout every time you speak or eat. You are more prone to have tense muscles than unconditioned.
They'll also tell you that most facial muscles are small flat muscles with little opportunity to growth. Moreover, most facial muscles don't attach in a way that you could add meaningful resistance to build them. Facial muscles just are not designed for growth.
Some facial muscles do grow sometimes. That happens when people take certain steroids. Remember those jaws of some athletes in the eighties? That's facial muscle growth, resulting in an angular and masculine look.
All your muscles have a tendency to tense and get shorter as you age.
Skeletal muscles are often arranged in pairs. If one muscle shortens, another muscle must lengthen to allow that. Your common postures, actions and gravity define which muscles are the ones that shorten.
Muscle shortening is the reason why old people often show a poor posture. And studies say it could all be avoided with stretching.
Your facial muscles suffer from shortening too.
The situation is even worse, as facial muscles don't have antagonists, the opposing muscles. You do have facial muscles that work against each other, for example, muscles that raise up the corners of your mouth and muscles that lower the corners of your mouth. But those muscles are not connected to the same bone or tissue. It could be, at least in theory, possible to contract them both at the same time. That means there is no opposite movement that would relax those muscles in your daily activities.
That is what studies also say. Here is an excerpt from The Anatomic Basis of Midfacial Aging study:
"Analyses of MRI images from patients of varying ages suggest that the aging muscles of the midface shorten and straighten, as though they are in spasm"
When you muscles are in spasm, you'll get no benefits in trying to tone or build them. You will need to relax the face muscles instead.
Studies say that changes in ligaments and skin tissue are one of the main reasons aging people get their saggy looks.
As long as your facial muscles are tense and shortened, they'll continue to stretch and stress your ligaments and skin tissue.
Facial muscles often start from a bone, but the other end attach to ligaments or directly to skin tissue. There are some exceptions, but most often the opposing force to facial muscle is either the skin tissue or collagen-right fibrous ligament tissue. Those tissues resists deformation and pull the facial muscle back to the resting state after tension is gone.
Your skin and ligaments are no match to your shortening muscles as you age. Your tense facial muscles are pulling the ligaments and skin tissue unnecessarily all the time, making them longer as time goes by. As the ligaments get longer, your skin gets a saggy look.
Some experts like to point out that facial exercise does not reattach ligaments. That is completely true. If the ligaments would be torn the only option to reattach them would be a surgery. But ligaments don't tear on their own - tearing ligaments requires much force. When you get old the ligaments just stretch and become longer. We don't want to reattach them like facial surgery does - we just want to relax the face muscles and let the ligaments heal and shorten on their own.
Not only tight muscles stretch your ligaments and sag your skin, they also cause wrinkles.
The round muscles around your eyes and your mouth will wrinkle your skin as they contract. If you take a look of the pattern how wrinkles locate around mouth and eyes, you can see that they follow the muscles underneath.
Now imagine that there might be a slight spasm on that muscle all the time? That would cause wrinkles, right?
If you are able to relax those round muscles, you'll be well on your way getting rid of wrinkles too.
Your skin tissue regenerates all the time. If given a proper chance, time and enough nutrients it can heal itself. When treating wounded ligaments in general, the best solution is to remove the strain from the ligaments and then give them moderate movement as they recover. You can do both with facial exercises.
If you do your facial exercises right, you'll notice immediately how they relax the face muscles. You should feel this right after your first exercise session. For some, the new feelings in less used facial muscles may take precedence though. In that case, you will notice the relaxing effect after couple of exercise sessions.
Note! If you don't feel your facial muscles get more relaxed - and stay more relaxed, you'll need to re-evaluate your facial exercise program. Is it working?
Only programs that relax the face muscles will give you the results you want.
When your facial muscles relax, the tension in the ligaments and skin tissue decreases. Without tension they have a chance to heal themselves. The mild massage and muscle activation you'll get with facial exercises increases the nutrient flow to your facial tissues. This gives energy and nutrients to the healing process.
You can also feel that facial exercises make you more relaxed in general. They may lower your pulse and your stress hormone levels. They may even relax muscles in other parts of your body.
However, the most important benefit is that facial exercises relax the face muscles. Not only the ligaments benefit, your wrinkles will smooth out as well.
After you start facial exercises you may notice that you have carried a constant tension in your face for years or decades - without noticing it in any way. I did. If I take a break, eventually that facial tension starts to creep back. That tension drives me back to my facial exercise program again and again. It feels good to relax my muscles.
If you stretch a muscle, you don't only relax it. With time it can gain back its original lenght and that again releases tension from the tissue that muscle attach to.
If you pay attention to how most facial exercises are performed, you'll notice that they don't so much work out the muscles, but stretch them. Some programs add a gentle massage to the stretch, easing the muscle to relax. Some include grapping the muscle to increase stretching.
Stretching the muscles has already been found to lengthen the muscles and correct posture problems with skeletal muscle.
With facial muscles, again, situation is a bit more complex due to their attachment to the ligaments and skin tissue. But if you want the pressure off your ligaments, there is no other way - except Botox or other paralyzing toxins. And Botox comes with a higher price, both monetary and physical.
Facial exercise offers you a way to stretch and relax the face muscles with very little risk.
The process how facial exercise works is similar to any other stretching exercise. You'll induce damage to the tissue when you exercise. Yes, stretching and exercising both damage your muscles. And every time you stretch, you'll stretch the ligaments too.
The actual healing and improvement happens when you rest. You tissues use that time to rebuild themselves.
This is especially important to remember when dealing with facial muscles. It is so easy to overwork them - in which case the ligaments and tissues will not have time and capability to heal.
If in doubt, rather do too little than too much. Over time, you can even decrease the amount of facial exercise sessions per week.
Now that you know that you want to stretch and relax the face muscles, you might be wondering if stretching and pulling the skin that some programs recommend would make exercises more effective.
I am not a big fan of stretching my skin, but after I found out this information, I too have been reconsidering it. Fortunately my current program gives me nice results without strecthing and pulling my skin.
The idea behind all that stretching and pulling is valid. If you can increase the pressure that you use to stretch your facial muscles, you can get them to lengthen faster and thus ease up the situation for the ligaments.
However, as you remember, the muscles that we are stretching attach to those same ligaments. I think there is a pretty high chance you'd be stretching those ligaments as well, even if you would be grapping the skin/muscle tightly.
Bad thing is that it is much easier and faster to stretch the ligaments and tissues than it is to heal them. And the healing is not only dependant on the stretch. How fast and effectively your skin can regenerate determines how fast you'll get results. As you get older, you'll become less effective and changes take longer.
My guess would be that if your skin is still elastic and heals fast, stretching and pulling may give you results faster. But in that case you will not have so much to heal yet. In any case, the most important thing is still to relax your face muscles and if you stress them too much, they might not become relaxed but strained.
If you are older and your skin (and thus ligaments too) have already suffered much, you may not want to take the risk. It is true that you might get results faster. But if you are unlucky, you might cause more damage than you can heal between the sessions.
It all depends on you. As one of the popular facial exercise programs says: "If You Dare"...
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The Anatomic Basis of Midfacial Aging, Allan E. Wulc (University of Pennsylvania),
Pooja Sharma and Craig N. Czyz, published in Midfacial Rejuvenation, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-1007-2_2
Understanding Facial Aging by Feagin & Owen Plastic Surgery Center
Brandt MG, Hassa A, Roth K, Wehrli B, Moore CC
Tishya A. L. Wren, PhD; Gary S. Beaupré, PhD; Dennis R. Carter
Anatomicohistologic study of the retaining ligaments of the face and use in face lift: retaining ligament correction and SMAS plication,
Ozdemir R, Kilinç H, Unlü RE, Uysal AC, Sensöz O, Baran CN
Provenzano PP, Martinez DA, Grindeland RE, Dwyer KW, Turner J, Vailas AC, Vanderby R Jr
Yang NZ, Wang ZJ, Wang B, Su XW, Lü N