Who knew that your jaw was the key to better performance? There was an interesting article in the NY Times last week about sports mouth guards or so called performance mouthpieces and the growing number of athletes who use them to increase performance. Two different companies, Under Armour and Canada's Makkar, are both touting their versions of these light, flexible pieces of molded plastic that fit over your teeth.
When you exercise, your natural reaction is to clench your jaw. It's supposedly part of the "fight or flight" hard wiring in your brain. Your clenched jaw and teeth trigger the release of excess amounts of performance sapping hormones such as cortisol, creating stress, fatigue and distraction. The performance mouthpiece is designed to reposition your jaw to its optimal resting position, entirely relaxing your jaw and facial muscles while opening up your airways.
The two brands currently on the market go about repositioning your jaw in different ways. Under Armour's sports mouth guard with ArmourBite Technology sits on the lower teeth while the Makkar version is gripped between the upper and lower teeth, much like you would hold a pen or pencil in your mouth. Both claim their performance mouthpieces can reduce stress, increase an athlete's strength, balance, agility, and improve overall performance.
Makkar Athletics Group was founded in 2006 by Dr Anil Makkar who has extensively studied the principles of neuromuscular science. The Makkar PPM is custom made to fit the user by certified dentists using a sophisticated computer technology.
Under Armour's performance mouthpiece line, which they began shipping in September, is also custom fit to your mouth by authorized dental providers. Your dentist will take your bite impressions, which are then shipped to a lab where they make the custom mouth guard. The performance mouthpieces come in three varieties, for use in heavy contact sports to non-contact sports such as cycling.