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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 Jul;67(1):270-5.

Activation of masseter muscles with inspiratory resistance loading.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville 22908.


Closure of the jaw exerts traction on muscles that insert on the hyoid bone and that may stabilize or expand the pharyngeal airway. We postulated that the masseter muscles, which close the jaw, would be activated when the patency of the pharyngeal airway is threatened. We therefore measured electromyographic activation of the masseters during inspiratory resistance loading and compared it with activation of chin muscles and alae nasi in 10 normal subjects. We observed no masseter activation during quiet unloaded breathing, but as pharyngeal pressure became lower there was a significant increase in masseter activation in all subjects. The change in masseter activation relative to pharyngeal pressure was similar to that of chin muscles and alae nasi. Activation of the masseter preceded the fall in pharyngeal pressure as also occurred in the chin muscles and alae nasi. We conclude that the masseters are activated by inspiratory resistance loading and have respiratory activity similar to pharyngeal airway muscles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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