TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition in which the joints in your jaw may be injured, displaced, or otherwise poorly functioning. It can also be caused by jaw muscles or teeth that just don’t work well with the jaw joints.
Running can be very hard on someone with TMJ. The high-impact exercise can jolt the temporomandibular joints, causing swelling and pain. It can also stress the jaw muscles, because the jaw itself has no support from below, so it’s only the muscles that are holding the jaw in place. It can also contribute to headaches and neck pain after running.
TMJ could also contribute to jaw pain because it makes you more likely to clench your jaw when running. Imbalance in the jaw can impact your core strength and balance, and clenching your jaw might be part of the way your body solves the problem. If you find yourself clenching your jaw while you run or do other types of exercise, it’s not enough to just try to relax: you should be tested to make sure your jaw is properly balanced.
If your visit to the doctor doesn’t reveal any possible heart issues, your next visit should be to a neuromuscular dentist, who can diagnose and treat TMJ in its early stages to prevent or reduce the risk that you’ll need surgical treatment later on.