Say Goodbye to Headaches Part 1

HA.jpg

I hate tension headaches with a passion. A tension headache is a headache caused from the overuse and tightness of your neck muscles. I used to get them pretty often and I remember what a pain it was! It would literally ruin my day until I would give in and take Advil. As my body got use to taking Advil, I was forced to bump up the frequency in order to get the same pain relief effect.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is how the horrible dependency on pain killers starts. In the long run, a dependency on pain killers can have negative effects on you body. According to the New Yorks Times article, "Experts Warn Against Long-Term Use of Common Pain Pills," by Roni Caryn Rabin, a long term dependency on common pain pills can lead to threatening ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, an increased chance of having a heart attack or stroke, worsening of high blood pressure, and kidney damage. The struggle is real! However, I will not let that happen to you! I am positive one of these techniques will get rid of your tension headache. Give all of them a test run since some techniques work better for some people than others. Ready to give it a try?

1. Stretching

Stretching the muscles on your neck is helpful to reduce muscle tension. One of the reasons tension headaches occur is when the muscles on your neck are overused and become very tight! Try out these 3 stretches that target the specific muscles on your neck including the trapezius, levator scapular, and suboccipitals! In other words … NECK MUSCLES! =)

Trapezius Muscle

Trapezius Muscle

Levator Scapula Muscle

Levator Scapula Muscle

Suboccipital Muscles By Dreviscerator Frank Scali, DC  using the CC BY-SA 3.0

Suboccipital Muscles

By Dreviscerator Frank Scali, DC  using the CC BY-SA 3.0

Upper Trapezius Muscle Stretch

  1. To stretch your left upper trapezius muscle, side bend your head to the right.
  2. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head.
  3. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left upper trapezius. It should not be painful!
  4. Hold the stretch and do the opposite to stretch your right upper trapezius muscle.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, alternating sides.

Upper Trapezius Stretch 

Upper Trapezius Stretch 

Levator Scapula Muscle Stretch

  1. To stretch your left levator scapula muscle, side bend your head to the right. Then rotate your head to the right. You are basically looking at your right arm pit! 
  2. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head.
  3. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left levator scapula muscle. It should not be painful!
  4. Make sure to stretch your left levator scapula muscle by doing the opposite as described above.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, alternating sides.
Research says you have to hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds in order for your muscle to maintain the stretch! Sorry, a 10 second hold is not going to make the cut!
Levator Scapula Stretch 

Levator Scapula Stretch 

Suboccipital Muscles Stretch

  1. To stretch your suboccipital muscles place both of your hands on the back of the top portion of your head.
  2. Push the top of your head down and forward. Your chin should be tucked into the front of your neck. 
  3. You should feel a pull at the back of your neck near the base of your skull. 
Front View Suboccipital Muscle Stretch 

Front View Suboccipital Muscle Stretch 

Side View of Suboccipital Muscle Stretch 

Side View of Suboccipital Muscle Stretch 

2. Strain Counter Strain Technique

This technique is useful to get rid of tension headaches caused from overused and inflamed muscles! This technique is the opposite of stretching. Instead of stretching and elongating your muscles, you are placing your muscles in a shortened position, allowing it to rest. Just like when someone is mad about something, you have to let them rest and cool off!     

Upper Trapezius Muscle Strain Counter Strain Technique

  1. Lay down on a flat surface like on a firm bed or on the floor.
  2. Put your left trapezius in a shortened position by side bending your head all the way to the left. Make sure your head is flat against the surface.
  3. Hold that position for 2 minutes.
  4. If it is your right trapezius that is bothering you, do the opposite.
  5. Important! Make sure you are in a position where you can completely relax your neck. If you are contracting your neck muscles while in these positions, you may flare up your muscles. 
Lay on a flat surface. 

Lay on a flat surface. 

Side bend your head to the left. 

Side bend your head to the left. 

Levator Scapula Strain Counter Strain Technique

  1. Lay down on a flat surface like on a firm bed or on the floor. Place a pillow behind your upper back and neck. Let your head slightly hang over the top of the pillow.
  2.  Put your left levator scapula muscle in a shortened position by bending your head backwards, side bending your head all the way to the left, and rotating your head to the right. It is the exact opposite of the levator scapula muscle stretch. 
  3. Hold that position for 2 minutes.
  4. If it is your right levator scapula that is bothering you, do the opposite to the right side.
  5. Important! Make sure you are in a position where you can completely relax your neck. If you are contracting your neck muscles while in these positions, you may flare up your muscles. 
Bend your head back over to top of the pillow.

Bend your head back over to top of the pillow.

Next side bend your head to the left.

Next side bend your head to the left.

Lastly, rotate your head to the right.  Strain Counter Strain Technique for left levator scapula. 

Lastly, rotate your head to the right.  Strain Counter Strain Technique for left levator scapula. 

Check out my next post,

"6 Ways to Get Rid of Your Tension Headache. Part 2"

for more techniques. 

Did you have a favorite technique that worked better than any of the others? Please comment below and share which technique you liked the most! 

My mom wanted in on the blogging fun. Thankful for my fun and silly mom. She wanted me to tell all of you that she is 60 years old and still going! Love my fit Mama!

#Goals

#Goals

Check out, "6 Ways to Get Rid of Your Tension Headache. Part 2," by clicking the image below.