Ever found yourself pulling a face comparable to Macaulay Kutchin in Home Alone in response to information or something that you’ve seen or heard ? Ever been told that you have a face like “your chewing a wasp” or “lemon-faced” or eaten sharp or bitter foods?

Andrew Biel in the Trail Guide to the Body refers to it as the muscle the creature of the Black Lagoon was famous for. The large flat muscle responsible for this being
the Platysma, meaning “wide bandage” is a broad sheet covering the upper parts of the pectoralis major and the deltoid muscle and overlaps the Sterncleidomastoid muscle. It invests and blends with the muscles of the lower mouth and has been found in the sub cutaneous tissue as well, reaching as far as the Zygomaticus muscle which allows the mouth to move upwards and backwards to allow you to smile. It is served and supplied by the facial nerve.

Did you know that variations in dimples are related to the functions of the platysma and zygomaticus and if you continue to hold tension in these areas as a response to life and experiences, your ability to develop double chins increases exponentially!
If one side of the muscle pulls into contraction and stays there, it can pull the mandible to the side alongside other associated muscles. This can contribute to wonky smiles and interesting positions of the jaw itself, impacting the tempero-mandibular position as well. These can be clearly observed in our clients when we check mandible position and TMJ function.

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Relaxed Platysma.

There are rich learnings from this muscle and observations of it’s actions and attachments. In dissection the fibres can spread far and wide or be much shorter and not overlap the clavicle or reach into the area of the cheek. The functionality and subjective, objective observations of the client will determine the presentation and the story they tell us.

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Contracted Platysma

Platysma is one to consider in terms of “cross-fibre” moves gently in numerous directions with our Bowen move. We have already captured many elements of Platysma with the TMJ procedure. Moves 1 and 2 over the salivary glands, sternal notches and hyoid and potentially fibres covered over the anterior deltoid of the shoulder procedure as well as moves over subclavius (below the clavicle.)
Below are some variations to approach this broad muscle and it’s surrounding connective tissue. Certainly it is useful around respiratory presentations, range of movement in the neck as an additional thought, especially in flexion and extension and uni-lateral rotation as it may restrict the muscles underneath it and reduce important signalling for the larger more relevant muscles and these actions by creating congestion.
Our clinical advice would most certainly link to taking any opportunity to smile broadly in appropriate situations and environments!

Don’t worry …be happy.
Paula Esson

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