Introduction to movements

It’s very important that no active exercise is done with the face until you start to get some recovery and movement. When your nerve isn’t working you can’t force it to work – that would be like trying to switch on a lamp which isn’t plugged into an electrical socket, it just wouldn’t turn on! If you exercise too early you can do more harm than good.

When you start to see some movement returning you can begin to do very gentle movements to reprogram the brain and facial muscle connections. Don’t panic if movement doesn’t happen for a few months, that can be perfectly normal. It is important to continue your facial massage and unaffected side stretches during this phase.

Small, low effort movements

This is all about practising very small, precise, gentle, balanced movements. Generally, we think about the effort put into movements on a scale of 0-10.

In facial movement, the effort tends to be no more than 2-3 out of 10. Avoid doing more on one side of the face than the other. Don’t put too much effort into their movements, bad habits will be hard to break later. Do not practice effortful movement, they are not natural. The movement must start at the same time on each side, move the same amount on each side, end at the same point on each side, and then relax down at the same time on each side.

The accuracy needed for good facial movement requires you to think carefully about which muscle you should be using for a movement, where you should feel the movement and also which direction that muscle should be moving in. You will need to really think about how your facial movement feels on the unaffected side of the face and use this as a model for learning to move the affected side of the face again.

Don’t use a mirror 

People think looking in the mirror will help them move their face better but in reality it distracts you from feeling if the correct muscle is working. In mirrors we look at our skin not at our muscles, so going by feel will give you much better information on what the muscles are doing. It is therefore best to avoid looking in the mirror during movement retraining.