Do you suffer regularly from headaches? And are those headaches located at the back of your skull? Perhaps even over your temporals, and over your forehead? And does it also sometimes feel like you’re wearing a really tight cap. They’ve got this band like tension around your head. And do these headaches come on particularly in the afternoon and the evenings and are being relieved by some pain medication? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you’re most likely suffering from tension headaches. Now stay tuned because I’m going to share some super effective stretching and strengthening exercises.
And if you combine the two, you’ve got according to science, the best treatment plan to get rid of your tension headaches, once and for all.So the tension headaches are really, really common. And they make up about 78% of all the headaches. They tend to be more common in women than in men. Women have a tendency to hold the tension more in their necks.
Whereas man tension tends to go more to their stomachs. We’ve seen explosion in tension headaches recently in our clinics because of people now working from home, working on dining chairs and dining tables, unergonomic equipment, but also having a lot more meetings. Zoom meetings, Zoom calls, not getting up, not walking about and sitting in front of the computer like this all day long.
Some other cause or factors to consider are also not enough sleep, drinking not enough water, drinking too much alcohol, missing meals, but also taking too much medication. So the medication that you’re taking to reduce your tension headache, like your Ibuprofen, your Aspirin, or Paracetamol can actually also induce the headache. So it’s worth having a play around with your medication as well to see if that makes a difference for you.
Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to demonstrate some really effective stretching and strengthening exercises you can do at the comfort of your own home. And science shows, if you combine the two, stretching and strengthening, you’re onto a winner and it will really, really reduce your tension headaches. So, the first set of muscles we must stretch when we’re dealing with tension headache, are muscles called the suboccipital muscles.
And they connect the base of the skull to the top of the neck. And there’s so many nerves running in this area that when those muscles get really tight, they literally compress the nerves. And that will give you a tension headache. So what we need to do is sit in the chair, sit upright. Place two fingers on your chin. So you’re creating a double chin. Don’t put your chin on your chest, create a double chin. Hold this position. We’re going to accentuate this, but placing our hand just above our upper lip and to push our head back a bit. Don’t place your hands on your jaw and push back, because you might irritate your jaw joint on the side, the TMJ joint.
So you place off his double chin here and on the other hand goes the back of her skull. Yeah? And I want pulling in the line of my forearm. Yes, so pulling straight down. So double chin, accentuate with the other hand, and I’m pulling down. Now you hold this for about 10 seconds. You do five repetitions. I do three sets. So double chin, push in. I’m pulling in that direction. And you should really feel that just below the base of your skull.
Fantastic exercise to stretch the suboccipital muscles. So a variation, for the stretch of a suboccipital muscles is this one. It might not be as effective, but it might be more practical for you to do. Same thing, so place two fingers on your chin, push your chin in, interlock your fingers, place your fingers in the back of your head. You place it a little bit more on top.
So not literally at the back, but like almost on top, top in the back. Chin in, and then you just pull your head forward. And again, you should feel it just literally at the base of your skull. So chin in, interlock your fingers, make sure your arm, your forearms are pulling forwards and you’re doing that. Same thing, do 10 repetitions hold each stretch for about 10 seconds.
Repeat about five times, and do this daily. This might be a great exercise to do when you’re in your office, just in between Zoom calls or in between projects. When you have a few spare minutes, just stretch yourself this way. So another really effective technique to reduce the tension in those suboccipital muscles is a self massage technique.
And the principles are the same as what we did before you sit upright and create a double chin. By creating a double chin, you’re opening up the back of your skull towards your neck, and your exposing your suboccipital muscles. You place your middle finger on top of your index finger, double chin, now you feel the back. And you’re gonna feel two little bony lumps at the back of your skull, there supposed to be there.
So that’s good two bony lumps. I just dropped down a little bit, and feel where the skull ends. That’s where those muscles are. So double chin. And then what will you do now is you rub back and forth through those muscles. I mean, I’m not suffering from tension headaches, but I can already feel soreness in there. So it’s definitely a great exercise to do. Double chin and expose the area. And you just rub back and forth for about five minutes.
And it’s a brilliant technique that you can do between your Zoom meetings or when you’re finishing a project or when you just go home and grab yourself a coffee or a tea at work or at home. Fantastic technique to do. You can do this all day long. And if you add a bit of pressure and it’s a little bit sore, you won’t do too much damage, do it for five minutes on a regular basis. And it will help again with your tension headaches.
What you could also do is apply a bit of heat on the same area. So get yourself a hot water bottle and lay on your back and apply a little bit of heat in the area. That would also make a difference and relax those muscles, thereby reducing your tension headache. So another muscle that you must stretch, if you’re suffering from tension headaches. It’s a muscle called the levator scapula, and that muscle runs from the tip of your shoulder blade to the top of your neck.
Again, crossing over that really important area just below your skull, where so many nerves gather, and if you’ve got a tight muscle, it will compress your nerves and give you your tension headache. So let me demonstrate, stretching out the right levator scapula. So what I need to do first is I’m gonna place my right hand underneath my left buttocks. And you repeat about five times.
And This is a great area to do when you have a bit of a time to walk to the coffee machine and go down the stairs when you’re away from your desk. Fantastic exercise, YWTL, to help with your tension headaches. So this next exercise is a brilliant exercise to help you sit upright throughout the day. Many cases of a tension headache do have some sort of postural component to it when people are sitting slouched all day long in front of their computers.
So we need to do is we need to get you from here to here. This is called the Brugger postural relief technique. And what you need to do is first of all, straighten out your legs a little bit. So we’re creating a stable base. Then really push out, arch your lower back, so push out your lower back, push up your chest towards the ceiling.
And then what we need to do is we need to breathe in. And then when we breathe out, we turning our thumbs all the way outwards, and we’re squeezing our shoulder blades together. (exhaling) Squeeze together, turn thumbs outward, and when we breathe in, we’re rotating our thumbs again inwards and outwards with the same thing, (exhaling) squeeze your shoulder blades together, and really keep your elbow straight and turn your arms, your thumbs outwards, as far as you can.
And again, (exhaling) Arch that back, keep the double chin, push your chest towards the ceiling. And really straighten out your whole spine. Absolutely brilliant technique to do throughout the day, which helps you maintain proper posture thereby decreasing most of the tension in the back of your neck and decreasing the compression on those nerves, that gives you the tension headaches. This is something you can do throughout the day