We all have had to deal with stressful situations in the past, whether it be getting lost on a road trip, problem solving at work, or mediating an argument. These situations are tough to deal with as is, but can become worse if you are prone to headaches.
Tension headaches often occur when one has emotional or physical stress, although they also can occur from a neck or jaw problem, bad posture, or fatigue. The muscles covering the skull contract, and cause a constant, dull pain on both sides of the head. Tension headaches account for 75% of all headaches, and are thus the most common type of headache. Fortunately, there are several ways you can combat these headaches.
If you are diagnosed with tension headaches, Physical Therapists can determine exactly what is causing them, and can show you the best method to correct the problems. This may include improving mobility in the neck with manual therapy, building strength in the neck and upper back, correcting posture, and suggestions to modify working environments. Physical therapy is a very affective method for treatment, and there are even stretches and exercises you can do at home on your own.
Below are some exercises that the Physical Therapists at Beyond Physical Therapy recommend for tension headaches:
For the corner pec stretch, find a corner or doorway that you can stretch at. Lift both hands up above your head, and press into the corner until you feel a stretch across your pec muscles. Hold that stretch for 20 seconds, then repeat 4 times.
You can do the shoulder blade squeeze exercise sitting or standing, but keep your back straight and head high. Push your shoulders back, and pull your shoulder blades together. Extend your arms, and have your palms face forward. This will open up your chest more. Hold for just a second and repeat 30 times.
To get a nice stretch in your neck and shoulders, stretch the levator scapulae muscle. While standing, hold a weight or other object in your right hand, and look over your left shoulder. With your left hand, push your head straight down, so your nose is towards your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times. Repeat on the other side.
With this technique, you can perform myofacial release on yourself. To begin, find two tennis balls and place them in a sock. Lay on your back, and place the tennis balls at the base of your skull. Lay on the balls for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
Continue laying down to complete chin tucks. Tuck in your chin, and hold for just a second. Repeat 30 times. It will look like you are nodding “yes”.
We hope these exercises are effective in restoring your health! Please note that each person is unique, so it is most beneficial to see a Medical Doctor or Physical Therapist to receive individualized care.
1. Matthew Giuliano, DPT at Beyond Physical Therapy