Tension headaches are one of the most common forms of headaches yet they are not well understood. Most people describe having a band of pressure around their head that can last from 30 minutes to a week. Tension headaches can be related to muscles tightening in the back of the neck and improper alignment of the joints of the spine. One of the best ways to combat tension headaches is through lifestyle changes. Here are some helpful tips:
This can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Exercise relieves stress, relaxes your muscles and increases the levels of beta-endorphins, which are your body’s natural stress relievers. So don’t just sit there, go for a walk, bike ride or run.
Relax Your Muscles
Muscle tension is associated with tension headaches. Applying heat or ice to sore muscles in the shoulders and the back of the neck may ease the tension. Massage is another way to relieve muscle tension. Gently massage the muscles of your head, neck and shoulders with your fingertips. Or have someone else do the massage for you. A warm bath can also do wonders for those tight, achy and stiff muscles.
Perfect Your Posture
Good posture can help keep your muscles from tensing up and reduce strain on your body. A jutting head combined with slumped shoulders can cause fatigue and tension in your neck and upper back. When standing, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should line up, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart or more.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or acupuncture, has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years. Research has shown people with tension headaches or migraines may find acupuncture to be very effective in alleviating their symptoms.
Record Your Headaches
Record when your headaches occur and what you were doing before they started. Try to recognize the factors that cause or aggravate your headaches. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if you’ve noticed any changes in your usual headaches, such as frequency, duration or intensity, or if your headaches begin to worry you.
Armed with these simple strategies to prevent headaches, pain doesn’t have to be top of mind.