The effects of isometric exercise on maximum voluntary bite forces and jaw muscle strength and endurance

D. J. Thompson, G. S. Throckmorton, P. H. Buschang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The effects of training and exercise on the strength and endurance of limb muscles has been investigated extensively, but the response of the jaw muscles to exercise remains poorly known. The purpose of this study was to determine whether short-term isometric training increases strength and endurance of the superficial masseter and anterior temporalis muscles. Maximum and submaximum voluntary bite forces and corresponding electromyographic (EMG) activity were measured in 28 young adults, randomly divided into exercise and non-exercise (control) groups. Subjects in the exercise group performed isometric clenches against a soft maxillary splint for five 1-min sessions per day over a 6-week period. After exercise, subjects increased their maximum bite forces by 37%, but control subjects' bite forces also increased by 25%. After exercise, EMG levels per unit of bite force generally decreased, but similar decreases were also seen in the non-exercised controls. Masseter muscle activity levels during standardized 10-kg bites decreased after 6 weeks of exercise. Fatigue resistance increased significantly with exercise but did not differ significantly from control values after 6 weeks of exercise. The results of this study indicate that increases in maximum bite force can be easily produced with training, but that actual strengthening of the jaw muscles is more difficult to achieve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-917
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2001


  • Anterior temporalis
  • EMG activity
  • Fatigue
  • Isometric exercise
  • Jaw muscle strength
  • Masseter
  • Maximum bite force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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