Facial workouts: How to benefit from pulling faces

Did you know there are 43 individual muscles in the face? These muscles are necessary for us to talk, sing, eat and to communicate our emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. We all know that to exercising our bodies is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but how many of us exercise our facial muscles?  As we age, our skin and muscles gradually lose tone and start to sag as gravity takes its toll.

So maybe pulling faces to tone-up your facial muscles may not seem like such a mad idea and may even make you laugh!  People of all ages can do them – you don’t even have to stand up – and it might be a fun activity to do together with your older relative.

The desire to look younger

Whether you call it facial yoga, facial Pilates, facercise, or a facial workout, pulling faces to improve muscle tone, hold back wrinkles, and achieve a more youthful appearance has been around for a long time. An interest in the benefits of facial toning is certainly not just a modern fad. It goes back thousands of years – it’s thought that Cleopatra and empresses from the ancient courts of China used facial exercises in an effort to stay looking youthful. This interest clearly continues today in our youth-obsessed society, with celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston all apparently enthusiastic practitioners.

Facial exercises are believed to increase blood flow, tone muscles, improve skin condition and even relieve stress. They are viewed by many as a more natural alternative to face lift surgery.

Eva Fraser facial workouts

There are many books and DVDs and classes offering facial workout routines. You can even buy apps for your android smartphone or iphone.

One of the most popular practitioners in the UK is Eva Fraser who, now aged 86, is a living testimonial to the benefits of facial exercises. She believes that the face muscles can be “re-trained to become firmer and strong again.”

Her facial exercise programmes comprise daily sessions lasting 10-15 minutes designed to lessen nose to mouth lines, tighten the upper cheeks, lift the eyelids, and firm the jawline. She started doing these exercises herself from the age of 50, but says you’re never too young or too old to begin to see the benefit.

You can see a demonstration of some of these exercises in this short clip from the BBC This Morning programme in 2011 (when Eva was 82)


Danielle Collins face yoga

Face yoga expert Danielle Collins put together a 20-minute routine of face exercises and recommends they be done six times a week

Health benefits of facial workouts

Besides helping to keep you looking a little younger, facial exercises are also used as physical therapy to help people recover from a stroke, and to help with with various conditions, including speech problems, Parkinson’s Disease, and Bell’s Palsy.

Exercising and massaging the facial, neck, and jaw muscles can also be useful in relieving such problems as headaches, teeth grinding, TMJ, insomnia, and sinusitis. In fact, traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the use of acupressure (similar to acupuncture but without needles) on specific points on the face. Eye exercises are actually compulsory twice a day in Chinese schools in an effort to combat myopia (short sight)

Traditional Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine holds that there are dozens of acupressure points on the face and that massaging these points can bring many health benefits.

We found these sample acupressure exercises on a Chinese Holistic Health website which    are easy to follow and could be useful to introduce to your older parent or relative to get them started.

For all the exercises you need to:

  • Use your index fingers on each pressure point.
  • Gently press until you feel a comfortable pressure.
  • Hold this pressure while kneading with small, circular movements.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, focussing your mind on the points as you massage them.
  • Massage each point for 1-2 minutes several times a day.

Point 1 – Located on the inside edge of the orbit of each eye

Press and knead to relieve tired, sore eyes and as a preventative against eye problems.

Point 2 – Located on the inner end of each eyebrow

Press and knead to relieve frontal headache, sore & tired eyes, sinus pain, and as a preventative against eye problems.
Point 3 – Located on the temples behind each eye

Use your index and middle fingers to press and knead to relieve headache, to calm the mind, and for eye problems.

Point 4 – Located next to the outer edge of each nostril

Press and knead to relieve and prevent nasal congestion, sinusitis and rhinitis.

Point 5 – Located under the nose, on the midline

Use the knuckle of your index finger to press this point to open up the nasal passages. This can also help to revive people after fainting or from a shock

Here are a couple of additional massage exercises you can also encourage your older parent to do – or even do for them:

Forehead Rub

Using the index and middle fingers of both hands, rub across the forehead from the middle outwards to the temples. Repeat for a total of ten times.

This exercise is thought to help relieve and even prevent problems such as frontal headaches, sinus pain, insomnia, sore eyes, and stress.

Head Massage

Use the tips of your fingers and thumbs to press and rub the scalp moving out from the midline to the sides, and then from the front to the back of your head. You can repeat as many times as you like.

This exercise is thought to relieve headache, and is highly relaxing.

General benefits of facial exercise

As with all exercise, you need to practise regularly to see any long-lasting benefits. Doing facial exercises or acupressure requires patience and a sense of humour – both of which are great attributes.

In fact, this sort of exercise is a type of mindfulness as you very much need to be focused in the present moment. And as such can help to lift your mood – especially when you’re pulling silly faces at yourself in the mirror!

Other useful myageingparent articles

Top 10 tips for ageing skin

How to keep older skin glowing with health

Top 10 tips for better health for older people

Guide to mindfulness

Other useful links

Eva Fisher website:  http://www.evafraser.com/

Chinese acupressure exercises: Chinese Holistic Health









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