Restrictions, Masks and Facial Expressions

As the year marches on, and we are still accompanied by COVID 19. Just when many of us felt we might have turned a corner, new restrictions are imposed here in Dublin which will impact on all our lives. However, rather than considering the new restrictions as a step backwards, we are hopeful they will be a step that moves us forward.

Here at the clinic, as an essential healthcare service, we will remain open and continue to look after our clients. We will continue to follow all the infection control and avoidance measures required to provide a safe but also welcoming environment. We are trying to limit 'COVID talk' and instead focus on you, providing support and reassurance where we can, while working to help you get better as quickly as possible.

Facial Expression exercises after wearing Masks

surprised 3355958 640According to Emeritus Professor Paul Ekman, we have 43 facial muscles which convey up to 10,000 different facial expressions in conversation, all with subtle and specific meanings. Facial expressions are an essential component of non-verbal communication which accounts for up to 55% of how we communicate. Some of the facial muscles may become lazy under a mask as we consciously or subconsciously use less facial expression when we speak when wearing a mask.

If a mask has been worn for a more extended period, it may help to perform the following series of exercises focussed on the muscles of the nose and lips. When doing each exercise, try to imagine or visualise an expression which would go with the muscle movement. 

First, after washing your hands, give the muscles around the jaw, lips and nose a gentle massage using the tips of your fingers in a circular motion for a few minutes.

Then do each of the following exercises 2-3 times. 

  • Look in the mirror, raise your eyebrows, and hold them in the raised state for 10 seconds. 
  • Wrinkle your forehead for 10 seconds
  • Pucker your both the lips and maintain lip compression for 10 seconds
  • Snarl by stretching both your lips outwards for 10 seconds
  • Now smile for 10 seconds - while smiling focus on drawing the corners of your mouth outwards and upwards.
  • Smile for 10 seconds, first smile without showing your teeth up and then smile by showing your teeth - while smiling focus on drawing the corners of your mouth outwards and upwards.
  • Wrinkle up your nose for 10 seconds
  • Sniffle ten times.
  • Have a deep breath through your nostrils while trying to flare your nostrils. Try to direct the air into the base of your lungs, hold for a few seconds and breath out slowly, do three times.

 These exercises can be performed 3-4 times per day or after a period of extended mask use, for example, after secondary school pupils arrive home or in the evening time. The purpose is to maintain a link between the areas of the brain that control facial expression while also keeping the facial muscles active.

 For more about facial expressions and their meanings, please click here. 

 PhysioPilates classes

 Due to ongoing government restrictions, it is proving challenging to resume group-based exercise classes in our clinic for the time being. Our aim is always to provide a quality service in a safe environment. We will continue to keep you up to date with any changes or developments.

 In-service training at the clinic

On Thursday, Lorraine will be doing another session with Katie and Rachael focussing on the assessment and treatment of the neural tissues. Lorraine will be drawing on her teaching experience and lectures provided to the UCD MSc in neuromuscular physiotherapy students for this session with the team. Understanding how the nerves may contribute to a problem like sciatica is essential. Effective treatment of the nerves requires the ability to specific and gentle as nerves are easily aggravated if treatment is too vigorous. 

As an essential healthcare service, we are available to help those who may be struggling with pain, loss of mobility and function. If we can be of help to friends or family, please pass on our contact details. If unsure, please ask them to give us a ring on 01 2834303 and our experienced chartered physiotherapists Katie or Rachael can discuss the problem and if physiotherapy may be of benefit.

In good health,

Simon & Lorraine

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Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

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