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The platysma is the muscle that allows us to create and control our facial expressions. It spreads out in a wide sheet that begins at the chest, runs up over the collarbone, and then stretches up along the sides of the neck to the chin. The primary function of the platysma is to help move the lower lip and jaw downward or to the side. The contraction of this muscle is the cause behind a variety of facial expressions, including smiling, frowning, and grimacing.
The platysma muscle is also a large contributor to the condition known as the double chin. This condition is usually due to the effects of aging on the muscles, although it can also be caused or complicated by the excessive accumulation of fat in the neck area as well. When people are young and the muscles of the body are still firm, the platysma tends to lay flush against the bones of the jaw and neck. Without proper exercise, however, the fibrous bands of the muscle can become thick and rope-like. This can cause the muscle to dangle down, causing the skin to droop and hang down between the jaw and the collarbone. Whether the double chin is caused by aging or unnecessary neck fat, exercise may help reduce the amount of sag in the neck area.
For an unfortunate handful of people, the double chin can be a genetic condition that can only be corrected through surgery. For most others, exercise can help — exercises designed specifically for the platysma can be quite effective if performed correctly and regularly. It's almost impossible to target specific areas for fat loss, so adding a daily aerobic routine can be helpful in losing excess fat in the neck area, but there are some exercises targeted to help firm the platysma.
In one routine, exercisers should stand straight and tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Tilt the head back as far as is comfortable, resulting in a stretch of the platysma muscle. Then, open and close the mouth at a regular pace, several times in a row. Exercisers can perform this exercise twice a day at first, and then increase the number of times per day.
Another exercise can be performed in a sitting or standing position, so long as the head is upright. Holding the head up, extend the lower jaw forward until the back lower teeth come in contact with the upper lip. Finally, slowly return the lower jaw to its original position. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times, at least twice a day.
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