Muscles of the Head

Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.

This article was edited and updated on April 21, 2017.

Yes, there are muscles in your head!

Muscles of the head? We don’t often think of them, yet we know (if we do stop and think about them) that there have to be muscles there. But the names do not roll off our tongue like hamstrings and quads, biceps and abs.

These muscles are most easily identified by how they function; included in this diagram are also two muscles of the neck.

Names of the Muscles

The muscles in the diagram above assist us in the following movements (start on the left at the top):

And now, on the right, from top to bottom:

Exercising the Head Muscles

Exercising facial muscles has been done for hundreds of years, including in yoga and needle therapies. All seem to have one goal: retaining a youthful look.

There is no doubt that just smiling can be good for you, both physically and emotionally.

Are there other benefits to facial exercises? There may be some: general strengthening, more blood flow, possibly softer and more resilient skin. There is little research to prove that it prevents wrinkles or makes you look younger.

There are many simple exercises which are said to help strengthen these muscles. (You will find websites that claim exercises can, for example, prevent wrinkles.) Like any muscle, there seems to be some merit to slow, deliberate usage, actions such as rotation of the head, lifting shoulders and eyebrows, opening the jaw and moving it in all directions.

Massaging the muscles of your face may relieve headaches as well. We don’t usually think about exercising these muscles except when they are lost to us, for example, after a stroke.

Research is limited but there is some evidence to suggest that facial muscles can and should be exercised as with all muscles.

Articles about other muscles:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. There are actually two: Zygomaticus major and Zygomaticus minor.