If you are experiencing headaches,there are three stretches for headache relief that you can do right now to help reduce some of your headache symptoms. Headaches can be caused by a lot of different things. The headaches that we commonly treat in the office are cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches, and sometimes migraines.
Stretch The Levator Scapulae Muscle
The first stretch for headache relief focuses on your levator scap muscles. The levator scap muscle starts on your neck, and runs down past your neck into the top of your shoulder blade. So it can get really tight. When there is tension in the muscle, it will pull on your neck, sending pain up in behind your eye, and give you headaches this way. So if you’re experiencing headaches in this way, this is a good stretch for you.
You can stretch the muscle sitting or standing, but what you’re going to do is rotate your head 45 degrees to the left. Place your left hand behind your head and gently pull it at an angle toward your knee. Stretch the muscle in this manner for 5 to 10 seconds. Stop the movement when you feel a slight sting in the right side of your neck. Next, relax the muscle for 5 to 10 seconds and switch sides.
The Pectoral Stretch
The next stretch you can do to help reduce headache symptoms, or headache tension is going to be a pec stretch. Often times when we evaluate people, and they have headaches from the neck, or from tension in the muscles, they’ve got head forward posture. Forward posture is when your slouching a little and your head comes forward. With this type of posture, your pectoral muscles get tight so if the chest is loosened up, you are able to stand up straighter.
In order to do this stretch, you will need to stand in a doorway with your arms at a 90 degree angle on both sides. With one foot in front of the other, lean in and hold for 15 seconds. Try to keep your spine in a nice neutral position. Keeping your arms at 90 degrees, you can bring your elbows lower or higher to stretch different ares of your pectoral muscles.
The Cervical Spine Stretch
The Cervical Spine stretch is really helpful for those that suffer from headaches due to car accidents, or headaches due to bad posture. The cervical spine should be a nice C shape. When it is straight or there is a loss of curvature, there are usually headaches associated with it. One of the ways you can help increase the curve, or take the pressure off your spine, is by stretching.
For this stretch, you will need a towel. You will begin by rolling the towel up and laying on a hard surface (your floor), with the towel under your neck. Make sure that the roll is high enough so that the back of your head doesn’t touch the ground. This allows gravity to stretch the anterior longitudinal ligament, and your posterior longitudinal ligament. They’re the ligaments that run down the front and the back of your spine. This helps to reshape that natural curve of your neck. So it puts that natural C shape back in your neck.
To intensify the stretch across your chest and tired shoulder muscles, spread your arms to the sides, with your hands above your head. This is also a great stretch for chest muscles. However, nerves and blood vessels in your shoulders might become impinged by tight chest muscles, causing your hands or fingers to tingle or go numb. If this occurs, simply lower your arm angle slightly.
As we stretch out that spine, and decrease some of that tension on there, it really starts to feel good on those tension or cervicogenic headaches. With that exercise, start at 10 minutes and try to do it for a week. Then add two minutes every week if you can for improvements.
While these three stretches are great for you to do on your own, contact your chiropractor for a more permanent solution. If you don’t have a chiropractor, contact Discover Health and Wellness Northglenn to receive our New Patient Special!