Exercises to Stretch the Lateral Pterygoid Muscles

by Crystal Welch

About Crystal Welch

Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.


As major players in chewing, your lateral pterygoid muscles are mainly responsible for moving your lower jaw from side to side and forward, and playsa role in opening your jaw. Rehabilitating your temporomandibular joint — commonly abbreviated TMJ — might necessitate exercises to stretch the lateral pterygoid muscles; such exercises can also help keep your jaw operating healthily. Check with your doctor first, since exercises may not be conducive to your situation.

Webbed Flexing

Gentle stretching maneuvers should be included in your exercises to stretch the lateral pterygoid muscles. Sit upright in a comfortable, high-backed chair with your mouth lightly closed, Dr. Barrie Lewis instructs on his Chiropractic-Help website. Lift your right arm and place the webbed area between your index finger and thumb on your chin. Gently press your entire head backward while pushing on your chin, allowing your mouth to slightly open. Feel your lower teeth move backward and a gentle, deep stretch in your jaw muscles. Do not turn your head. Hold this stretch 10 seconds. Release the stretch and return to the original position. Relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise five times, and do three sets daily.

Tongue Workouts

Moving your tongue can stretch the lateral pterygoid muscles. Sit upright in a comfortable, high-backed chair that supports your neck. Gently close your teeth together. Move your tongue so the tip rests behind your front teeth, along the top of your mouth. While keeping your teeth closed, slowly move your tongue backward along the roof of your mouth until you feel your soft palate or soft tissue. Slowly open your mouth until your tongue wants to separate from your soft palate. Hold this position for eight seconds. Slowly close your mouth and return to the original position. Relax for 10 seconds. Repeat two times.

Lateral Stretching

Exercises to stretch the lateral pterygoid muscles can mimic the actual lateral movements of the muscles. Sit upright in a firm chair. Open your jaw 1 inch, Dr. Steven R. Pohlhaus of the Baltimore Center for Laser Dentistry instructs. Keep your mouth shut and slowly move your jaw as far as possible to your left without causing pain. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly return your jaw to center position. Relax 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times to the left, then do the exercise 10 times to the right.


To fully stretch your lateral pterygoid muscles, you need to work on the muscle's jaw-opening capability. Stretch the muscles by sitting upright in a firm chair and doing some open-wides. Gently and slowly open your mouth as wide as possible, Pohlhaus recommends. Stop immediately if you hear a popping or clicking sound. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly close your jaw and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Photo Credits:

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.