Go into any newsagent or magazine seller and you will see a wide selection of well-known fitness publications. The glossy covers show young guys and girls with rippling abs and biceps and their pages will be packed full of conventional exercise regimes designed to strengthen and tone nearly every muscle in your body.
Without doubt these workout routines will keep your body strong, healthy and more resilient to disease, in fact, I’ve included my own ‘fast fitness’ exercise routine in this book because regular exercise is a vital weapon in your quest to stay young.
While these magazines concentrate on the muscles in the body, very much less is said about another, neglected set of muscles that have a huge impact on how young or old you look and feel – the muscles in our face.
Yet, while the muscles in the body are exercised almost to obsession, those in the face are usually neglected and left to wither away. It is this deterioration in the tone and strength of the facial muscles that encourages the formation of wrinkles, sunken eyes, hollow cheeks, eye bags and a flabby neck.
Without toned muscles to support the skin, gravity sucks your features down, making you look drawn and tired. The corners of the mouth droop downwards giving you with a permanently sad expression.
You may think that because you use the muscles in your face every day to talk, eat and make expressions, this would be enough to keep them in good condition but this type of sporadic, uncoordinated movement is not enough to keep the facial muscles in their best condition.
We assume that this deterioration in our looks is just a natural part of the aging process but I disagree. Women have known for a long time that simple daily exercises that tone the major facial muscle groups can help to firm the contours of the face and prevent or reduce the visible signs of aging.
Just as with the muscles of the body, if you exercise the muscles in your face, you can stay looking fresher and younger for longer.
The idea of exercising the muscles of your face may seem a little strange but it can become a normal and natural part of your daily routine and it only need take 5 minutes a day.
No matter what your age you can look and feel better with facial exercise. If you are a young man, performing facial exercises will help you maintain that smooth, fresh, healthy look of youth. If you are more mature, a facial workout will help ‘turn back the clock’.
Performed regularly, facial exercises can:
- Firm the forehead, reducing worry and frown lines;
- Reduce and prevent crows feet and bags around the eyes;
- Stop the downward turn of your mouth and thinning of the lips;
- Accentuate your cheekbones to give a more elegant tapered shape to the face;
- Reduce and prevent jowls and slack neck skin (turkey neck);
- Fill out the sides of the mouth to prevent hollow cheeks.
This article series shows you easy-to-learn, simple exercises that will give you a natural, non-surgical face lift in the same time it takes you to shave and it’s guaranteed to work for you, regardless of your age.
The Muscles of the Face
There are sixteen major groups of muscles that influence how the face looks. The diagram below shows a simplified view of how the facial muscles are arranged on the skull and the legend on the next page gives the name of each muscle group.
As you will see, muscles cover almost the entire face and head and therefore have a huge influence on your unique appearance.
1, longs colli; 2, rapezius; 3, sterno-hyoid; 4, sterno-mastoid; 5, erico-thyroid; 6, trapezius; 7, constrictor of pharynx; 8, sterno-mastoid; 9, digastric; 10, attrahens aurem; 11, mylo-hyoid; 12, masseter; 13, depressor of lower lip; 15, orbicularis oris; 17, levator of upper lip; 19, levator of angle of mouth; 21, orbicularis palpebrarum. Source: Joseph G. Richardson, Health and Longevity (New York, Home Health Society, 1912).
The following exercises, if performed correctly and regularly, will tone and strengthen these major facial muscles, restoring their tone and strength.
Each exercise is clearly explained in words and pictures and you also have the option of watching a demonstration video on a private area of You Tube. The web address where you can view the videos is given after each exercise.
You will be exercising your muscles ‘isometrically’. This means you will be tensing the muscles against counter pressure from your hands for a number of seconds and then relaxing.
At first it may seem very difficult to perform each exercise or to feel any effect. This is normal. Much like the muscles of your body, any exercise performed for the first time on muscles that have not been actively exercised for years will be a challenge.
Even holding the tension for a few seconds may seem impossible but don’t give up! When you first work out the biceps on your arms it can be difficult to even lift the dumbbell off the ground, but the more you do it the stronger the arms muscles become and the easier it gets to lift the dumbbell. It’s no different with the muscles in the face.
In the beginning, aim to hold the tension in each muscle for a slow count of 10. Do this every day for one or two months. As the muscles begin to tone and the exercise feels easier, double the tension hold to 20 seconds for another couple of months.
When this becomes comfortable increase the hold to thirty seconds for each exercise.
The important thing is not to rush and expect instant results. Muscle toning takes time, dedication and patience but the rewards are worth the wait and the effort. You don’t have to perform all the exercises in one session. If there is a particular part of your face you wish to concentrate on that’s fine or you can spread the exercises out over an entire day or week, but for the fastest results and a complete ‘makeover’ I suggest doing the entire workout on a daily basis.
Before you start make sure your hands are clean and dry so that you can hold the skin under your hands and fingers. If your hands or face are too greasy you may find it hard to create the resistance needed for your facial muscles to work against. If you wash your face before the session, either use a non-drying facial cleanser that does not leave your skin feeling tight or moisturise after your wash with a light, easily absorbed non-greasy lotion or cream and give it time to absorb.
You want your skin to be dry enough so that your fingers and hands do not slip over the skin. You want to be able to hold the skin gently but firmly and work the muscles underneath against that hold.
Each exercise is clearly explained. Please follow the step by step instructions to make sure you perform each exercise correctly. It may be a good idea to practice each exercise in front of a mirror or web cam to check the position of your hands. As you become more confident in performing each exercise you should be able to perform the exercises by feel alone but you can, of course, continue to use a mirror if you wish.
Firming and Smoothing the Forehead
The forehead is covered by a thin sheet of muscle called the occipital frontalis.
When you raise your eyebrows, this is the muscle you use. It is also connected to the muscles around the eyes. As we age, this muscle loses it’s tone and elasticity, encouraging both frown lines and drooping of the skin over the eyes. By exercising this muscle, you help smooth and minimize frown lines, lift the eye brows into an elegant arch and prevent the drooping of the upper eye lid.
As the forehead muscle increases in tone, you should feel the tension across the front of your forehead when you perform this exercise.
Place both palms of the hands over the forehead, so that the fingers rest on the front of your head and scalp, and your thumbs touch your temples. The lower part of your palms covers your eyebrows. Press your palms firmly against the forehead bone and gently pull the skin upwards and outwards.
Use the palms of your hands and fingers.
Place your palms over your forehead and fingers over the front of your skull.
Side view of exercise.
Use your palms to provide resistance. Place your palms over your forehead. Now slowly pull your eye brows and forehead down, trying to close your eyes against the upper pressure of your palms.
Try to move the entire sheath of muscle across your forehead down towards your nose. Try not to frown or use only the eyebrows. Use your palms to keep your eyebrows gently separated by pressing outward as well as upward.
You should feel tension across your forehead only. Hold the tension for a slow count of up to 30 seconds, then gently drop the forehead skin down to it’s resting position, release the tension and take away your palms. Do this once a day.
We will be covering the other facial exercises in this workout in later posts.