There aren’t many things that top the frustration of a tension headache. Especailly as it becomes worse when you are at your busiest or super stressed! There are a few things you can do to ease headaches at home, there are my top tips!
First we need to understand whats going on, tension headaches occur for 2 reasons.
Tightness in the muscles.
The head likes to be centred, perfectly on-top of the neck. When it is off axis by even 1º, this can cause some upset and result in a headache. One thing that can cause the head to be off centre is tightness in the muscles. An example of this is the big trapezius muscle that goes along the top of the shoulders, if this is tight it can pull the head to the side and off centre. By releasing these muscles you can prevent the head being pulled and thus prevent headaches occurring.
A trigger point is a type of knot that is extremely painful. The brain responds to this pain by shooting the pain to a different area of the body to shift the focus away from what is actually happening. You can get trigger points all over the body, they are easy to recognise as there are common patterns where they refer the pain. For the shoulders and back the common referral areas are the head and can be felt as a headache.
I have seen many clients with trigger point headaches, I have even had client that feel it in the eyes and teeth!
What can you do?
There are a few things that can ease these type of headaches. I would always recommend a Sports Massage for tension headaches, as your therapist will be able to ease these issues in a safe/comfortable way without too much discomfort. However.. I am writing this blog in lockdown 3, when treatments can’t take place. Here are my top exercises you can do at home.
1. I would recommend stretching the area to take any pull of the head.
Try holding each of these positions for 60 seconds, I also like to do deep breaths as it calm’s the mind and eases stresses on the mind.
2. Self Massage to the neck.
I prefer to do this with a small ball rather than my hands. I use the ball in small circles over my neck, if I find any sore spots I keep the ball still applying enough pressure but not so much its unbearable. Stay with this point until it starts to ease off (2-5mins)
If the massage causes any headaches, this will be a trigger point. I would avoid self-massage if you get any headaches as it will be too intense to self-treat.
3. Keep Moving.
As vague as this sounds, most problems occur when we are static for long periods. Keeping moving throughout the day and adjusting posture/set up will really help.
4. When you headache is bad try some broad pressure points.
Applying a weighted object (just as a rice bag) on top of the shoulders and even on the very top of the head can help to relieve pressure. The medical book I like to reference says a bag of rice on the head, but it’s not the most practical object when your headache is flared! I also recommend a tight headband or hat around the head.