Headaches are tricky to figure out because there are different kinds of headaches and multiple variables involved.
Nutrition, posture, and hormones can all play a roll for example.
Today I’m going to focus on one particular type of headache- tension headache.
The most common reason for these headaches are from tight muscles and connective tissue in the neck and head.
These headaches are painful and distracting, but very manageable!
Classification of tension headaches:
Pain is typically described as “pressing” or “tight”
Also known as a stress headache
Pain is located around forehead and both sides of the head (bilateral)
Pain is mild to moderate in intensity
Neck and shoulders feel tender and sore (1)
If you feel like your fall under this category of symptoms, don’t panic! Here is what you can do to start getting rid of that headache.
1. Self Massage
Place both hands on either side of the head, just above the ears. Using a “bear claw” shape with your fingers, start gently pushing into the head muscles. Perform tiny circles with your finger tips. Work into your temples and around the hair line.
2. Neck Stretches
These simple stretches can be done at the computer desk or while you are waiting at a red light. Your neck and shoulder will thank you later for keeping a healthy range of motion with in the muscles, there for keeping away tension. Click here for some simple neck stretches by “Dr. Jo.”
3. Understanding Balance
If you are getting tension headaches too often, then take a step back and observe the amount of stress your are putting yourself through. If you are working non-stop, eating fast food, or not getting enough sleep, than your muscles will not be able to keep up. If you want to manage these headaches, then find time to undo and unwind. If you sit for 7 hours a day, then allocate at least 1 hour a day for some kind of healthy movement. Balance!
Side thought- If you are driving your car non-stop and never get it serviced, the car will stop working eventually. Our bodies are very similar! It is the machine that keeps us going. If you are a busy person, then you need to be getting even MORE bodywork done to outweigh the physical and mental stressors in our world today.
4. Restrain from using painkillers
Painkillers are just band-aids when it comes tension headaches. Try something topical like a deep heat if you are desperate, but popping pills to mask the headache pain will slowly damage your internal organs.
These four bullet points highlight what YOU can do for short term relief from tension headaches.
For long term results, come see one of our health care professionals for you a more hands on and individual treatment plan.
(1) Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2012 Aug; Tension type headache. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3444224/