Exercises for Bell ’s Palsy Treatment

Updated on April 7th, 2020
Exercises for Bell's Palsy

Research shows Bell’s palsy afflicts approximately 40,000 Americans every year. Facial exercises prove to be very helpful to improve the contraction of muscles. Such physical exercises for bell’s palsy ensure the strengthening of muscles and help the person to gain greater control of the facial muscles, be it both mild or severe cases. They help prevent further shrinking of your facial muscles. These sets of exercises work individually on the muscles of the face, eyes, nose, lips, and eyebrows. And, the best part is that they are simple, require no equipment or external help and can be easily performed at your home.

Exercises for Bell's Palsy

Exercises for Bell’s Palsy

The main goal of exercises for Bell’s palsy(1) is to recreate the “brain-to-nerve-to-muscle” pathway. It is believed that facial movements must be unlearned and then relearned slowly and correctly.

This helps us as overtime, facial movements become autonomic and by performing such facial exercises one can help strengthen and retrain them. However, the overall effectiveness of facial exercises depends entirely on the patient.

The key lies in doing them correctly, effectively, patiently and consistently. And the best part is they are very simple to complete. It is advised to sit in front of the mirror while performing various facial exercises for Bell’s palsy.

1. Eye Exercises

Why does it work?

Bell’s palsy exercises help in exercising the eye and eyelids(2). It helps the affected eyelid to relax. It also prevents it from becoming stiff.

How to perform it?

  • Keep your neck straight. Without bending it, look down towards the floor.
  • Rest the back of the index finger on an eyelid to ensure it stay closed. Next, gently massage and stretch the eyebrow upwards above the closed eye with the opposite hand. Repeat this process with the other eye too.
  • Slowly and gently squint both eyes. Pretend you are looking at the bright sun and continue squinting little by little until both the eyes are shut. The exercise not only helps the eyelids to close, but it also prevents the eyelids from becoming stiff.
  • Wink your eyes gently, turn by turn. Be careful not to push it.

2. Eyebrow Exercise

raise both eyebrows with fingers
Image:ShutterStock

Why does it work?

This exercise targets the majority of facial muscles.

How to perform it?

  • Look in a mirror. Gently raise both eyebrows by using your fingers. Hold the position for 10- 15 seconds. Next, make a frowning face and wrinkle the nose. Slowly bring back the frowning face and wrinkled nose to normal. Drop the eyebrows.
  • Place your four fingertips on the affected eyebrow. Rub it by making firm strokes with your fingertips towards the hairline.

3. Lip Exercise

Why does it work?

This exercise helps in strengthening and stretching the facial muscles and in improving the lip movements.

How to perform it?

  • Place both the index fingers on the corner of the lips. Next, gently slide the index fingers backward, towards the ear, such that a smile is formed. Remove the index fingers but still hold the smile in place. Then relax for a few seconds and start over again.
  • Move both corners of the mouth to one side and then the other, turn by turn, slowly and steadily.
  • Curl up your upper lip. Then try raising it and jut out the upper lip.
  • Close both your lips. Slightly compress and release them. You have to maintain the lip compression till you feel movement in your eyelids. While doing this exercise, you have to focus on relaxing the muscles surrounding the eyes. When new to the exercise, you are likely to experience eye movements that might occur. On doing it regularly, you would be able to do the lip movements without involving your eye.
  • Pull together both your lips and maintain the compression for some time.
  • Stretch both your lips and snarl.
  • Smile and keep focusing on your smile till your eyelid remains steady. Also, keep in mind to not pop out your neck while you are smiling.
  • Smile by showing your teeth and without showing your teeth, doing it alternatively.
  • Speaking certain words also helps to improve lip movements. Speak words that involve letters B, M, F, and P. Do this slowly and softly. Repeat them back to back by looking in the mirror continuously.
  • Fill up your cheeks with air. Hold your air-puffed lips tightly shut ensuring that air doesn’t escape out. Hold them for 3 to 5 seconds.

4. Neck Exercise

Why does it work?

The exercise helps to stretch your neck muscles. It results in improving flexibility.

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How to perform it?

  • Tilt your head slightly backward, to one side.
  • Hold this position for ten seconds and slowly get back to normal.
  • Do the same for the other side.

5. Chin Exercise

Chin Exercise
Image:ShutterStock

Why does it work?

It helps in strengthening the chin muscles.

How to perform?

  • Firstly harden your chin. Then stick the chin out, as a boxer would do.

Side Effects/Warnings

Simple facial exercises for Bell’s palsy do not have any side effects. However, it is beneficial to remember certain care tips and warnings

  • Ensure you chew your food by involving both sides of your mouth. This would help to retain normal patterns when you achieve back your normal movements.
  • Avoid chewing your gums. Chewing gum exercises the incorrect muscles. It may also lead you to synkinesis.

Bottom Line

Bell’s palsy exercises prove to be very favorable in the long-term success of a facial paralysis treatment. They tend to play a crucial role to ensure a safe and effective recovery from Bell’s palsy. Regular exercise helps to increase the strength and improve the coordination of facial muscles.


FAQ

1. Does Bell’s Palsy Affect Both Sides of the Face?

It is possible to have bilateral Bell’s palsy, but it’s rare. Bilateral Bell’s is likely to happen in less than 1% of total Bell’s palsy cases.

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