Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

Tension Headaches | Is neck strain causing your headaches?

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Neck Strain is a possible cause of your Tension Headaches.

Tension type headaches are the most common type of headache and makes up 90% of all headaches.  It can be described as a dull, aching, pressure headache and will generally present over the frontal lobe but pain or discomfort can also be noted in the neck.  The pain may occur once, constantly or daily, and can last for 30 minutes to 7 days. Tension type headaches are divided into 2 categories:

  • Episodic tension headaches which are usually associated with stressful events. It is generally moderate in intensity and responsive to non-prescription drugs.
  • Chronic tension headaches often recur daily and is associated with contracted muscles of the neck and scalp.

These headaches are often caused by either stress (increased contraction of neck and scalp muscles), emotional upheaval (overtired, rushed, anxious, etc.), neck strain due to poor posture (forward head carriage) or eyestrain and is often associated with tension or spasm in the muscles of the head, neck, face or jaw.

When looking at the anatomy, it will be noted that there will either be a dysfunction of the upper three neck joints or the neck muscles.  The most common neck joints involved in tension headaches are:

  • Atlanto-occipital joint (0 – C1)
  • Atlanto-axial joint (C1 – C2)
  • C2/C3 cervical spine joint

Simply put, your neck joints can either cause neck headache or pain if they are either too stiff or move too much or are locked in an abnormal joint position (eg. locked facet joint or poor posture).

Your neck and shoulder blade muscles that originate from your neck will cause pain if they are overworking, knotted or in spasm.  Some of your neck muscles overwork when protecting injured neck joints.  Other neck muscles become weak with disuse, which places further demand on your overworking muscles resulting in the muscle fatigue related symptoms.  Muscles that are usually overworking include your trapezius, levator scapula, splenius capitis and rhomboids.

 

So, What Can You Do at Home to Alleviate Your Tension Headaches?

Correct Neck Posture

Firstly, you need to make sure that your head is in the correct position.  To do this stand with your back flush against a wall.  Align your heels at shoulder width apart, press your buttocks against the wall, and be sure your shoulder blades are touching the wall.  When you are in this position, pay attention to your head position.  It is important that the back of your head is touching the wall.  If it is not touching, you have forward head posture, and it is likely that you suffer from weak neck muscles.

To get into the correct posture, you will simply touch the back of your head to the wall.  Pretend that there is a string going from the base of your neck to the top of your head.  Pull that string up from the top creating a longer neck.  As the back of your neck gets longer, your chin should tuck in and down somewhat toward the back of your neck.  Make sure you are not simply moving your head backwards and increasing the curve of the neck, focus on creating length in the back of the neck.

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises         Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

           Starting Position                                     End Position

 

Neck Strengthening Exercises

Chin tuck

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises           Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headache from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

                       Starting Position                                                                       End Position

  • This exercise is very similar to the corrective technique, except you will be lying on your back.  Lie on your back with both knees bent and place a rolled-up towel under your head (slightly towards the base of you scull).  From a relaxed position tuck your chin in by slightly nodding your head down, now try and push the towel down into the ground.  Hold position for 20 seconds, repeat 5 times.

 

Chink tuck with roll

  • Same position as above, but this time you will be slowly rolling your head side to side, whilst maintaining constant pressure pushing down.

 

Protraction/Retraction

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headache from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises         Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

                 Protraction                                            Retraction

  • Place your hands shoulder width apart on the wall and stand arm’s length away from the wall. Push your body slightly away from the wall, whilst rounding your shoulder blades (not lifting your shoulders).  Now move your body slightly towards the wall (arms will stay predominantly straight), pulling your shoulder blades in and down towards your spine.  Do 10 repetitions of each movement.

 

Neck Retraction with Theraband

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises           Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

                     Starting Position                                                                      End Position

  • Again, this exercise is very similar to the corrective technique, except this time you will work against resistance. Place a theraband around your head, holding onto both ends of the theraband in one hand.   Slightly tuck your chin in and push your head back as if you are trying to slide your head onto a shelve, pull the two ends of the theraband in the opposite direction.  Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Neck Stretches

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises           Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises
Lateral Neck Flexion

Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises            Fish & Field Biokineticists tension headaches from nect strain solved with strengthening exercises

                            Neck Flexion                                                           Pec Stretch

Include these neck and chest stretches as part of your daily routine.  Hold each stretch for 20 – 30 seconds and repeat.

 

Author: Jenna-Lee Field

References:

www.emedicine.medscape.com//article/792384-overview

www.physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/neck-headache-cervicogenic-headache

www.h2tmuscleclinic.com/ibuprofen-for-headaches-no-get-a-massage

www.medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000797.htm

www.wikihow.com/Correct-Forward-Head-Posture

 

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