Bell’s palsy is a neurological condition that affects the facial nerve on one side of your face, resulting in paralysis or weakness. One way to help improve muscle strength and movement control is through facial exercises.

The symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically appear suddenly and begin improving within a few weeks, even without treatment. For many people, the condition is temporary and complete recovery is likely.

However, it’s important to see a healthcare professional as soon as you experience symptoms like facial weakness or paralysis.

Early treatment can help prevent additional nerve damage and improve your chances of full recovery.

Although the exercises might seem simple, they can be tiring or exhausting. Avoid overexertion and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Here are a few practice tips:

  • Sit in front of a mirror.
  • Perform these exercises slowly and carefully.
  • You can gently move muscles with your fingers to prevent unwanted movement.

Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Do 5–10 repetitions of each exercise.
  • Hold each position for 5–10 seconds, then relax and rest for a few seconds before repeating.
  • When appropriate, repeat on the opposite side.
  • Aim to perform facial exercises at least 3–4 times per day.
  • Gradually increase the repetitions, duration, and intensity as you get more comfortable.

Below are some of the best facial exercises for Bell’s palsy.

Eyebrow exercises target the frontalis muscle, which raises the eyebrows. It’s also essential for emotional expression and nonverbal communication.

Strengthening this muscle can help improve facial symmetry and overall muscle control, making creating expressions like shock and surprise easier.

To exercise this muscle:

  • Frown and draw your eyebrows together and down.
  • Gently lift your eyebrows while keeping your eyes open. Use your fingers to assist if necessary.
  • Press your fingertips firmly into your eyebrow and slowly slide them toward your hairline.
  • Gently place the back of your index finger against your eyelid. Then, gently stretch your eyebrow upward with your opposite hand.

These exercises target muscles around the eyes, including the orbicularis oculi muscle, which is responsible for blinking and closing the eyes.

To exercise these muscles:

  • Close your eyelids tightly, creating wrinkles at the outer corners of your eyes.
  • Squint your eyes as if trying to see something far away.
  • Open your eyes wide without moving your eyebrows. Use your fingers to keep your eyebrows in place if necessary.
  • Close your eyes and use your fingertips to apply light pressure to the top and bottom eyelids.
  • Wink one eye slowly.
  • Keep your neck straight and slowly gaze downward.

These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the nose and upper lip, including the nasalis muscle, which flares the nostrils, and the levator labii superioris muscle, which lifts the upper lip.

To exercise these muscles:

  • Inhale deeply and sniffle.
  • Wrinkle your nose and flare your nostrils as much as possible.
  • Flare your nostrils and breathe deeply through your nose.
  • Use your index finger to push the skin down while flaring your nostrils, forming wrinkles at the base of your nose.

These tongue exercises help build strength, mobility, and control.

To exercise this muscle:

  • Press your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth.
  • Place the tip of your tongue against the back of your top front teeth and slide your tongue back toward your molars.
  • Stick out your tongue as far as possible and then curl the tip toward your nose.

These exercises work the lip, cheek, and jaw muscles.

To exercise these muscles:

  • Slowly pucker your lips together and push them forward.
  • Gently draw the corners of your mouth downward, using your index fingers if necessary.
  • Puff out your cheeks as much as possible.
  • Press your cheeks firmly against your teeth and pull back the corners of your mouth while drawing your chin backward.
  • Protrude your jaw slowly to one side while keeping your teeth together.
  • Stretch your lips into a wide smile, showing your teeth.

These exercises mainly target the platysma muscle, which plays a role in mouth, jaw, and neck movements.

To exercise these muscles:

  • Tuck your chin toward your neck.
  • Tighten your chin and neck muscles.
  • Jut out (extend out) your chin.
  • Tilt your head slightly backward and to the side.
  • Tilt your head back, pull the corners of your mouth downward, and move your lower jaw up and down.

Facial exercises for Bell’s palsy can help activate the muscles, promote circulation, and stimulate nerve regeneration.

They may help reduce inflammation, prevent further nerve damage, and improve the overall functioning of the facial nerves.

These improvements can positively impact communication, social interactions, and self-esteem.

Facial exercises for Bell’s palsy can also help:

  • maintain muscle tone
  • reduce stiffness
  • improve mobility
  • prevent facial contractures
  • increase flexibility
  • develop muscle control
  • improve relaxation response
  • alleviate discomfort
  • increase mobility
  • improve coordination

The healing period for Bell’s palsy may take up to 9 months. The results depend on factors like the severity and your response to treatment.

As 2021 and 2022 reviews suggest, a consistent facial exercise routine as part of a comprehensive treatment plan can help improve symptoms and enhance recovery.

Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice before beginning any exercise routine.

Bell’s palsy causes sudden, temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of your face. Symptoms include difficulty with facial expressions and drooping of the eyelid and mouth.

Although Bell’s palsy typically resolves independently within a few months, daily facial exercises can help improve facial symmetry, mobility, and muscle function. They may also help boost your confidence and enhance your overall quality of life.

After recovery, you may make facial exercises part of your everyday routine.