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BY DR. ARNAN SISSON
What is something that we’ve all come across in our lifetimes that ruin’s a day? That awful thing is…. headaches! It can make you kiss goodbye to a long night’s rest. This leads to tiredness and just an overall irritable mood the next day. It may be that your headaches don’t happen every night, but when they do hit you have to curl up in a dark room and wait them out. Or you may be going through endless bottles of Tylenol to mask the pain.
All of these scenarios are no fun, and unfortunately, it’s something I hear about all to often. In some cases, the headaches could be related to sinus problems, allergies, other forms of sickness, etc. But in many cases, it can be caused by tightness within the muscles of the head and neck. When this is the case then massage work and stretching regiments tend to relieve the problem. If they don’t work, then you know it’s likely not linked.
So today, I’m going to quickly go over a great stretch for a headache caused by muscular problems. Feel free to try it out, and if it relieves your headache, then problem solved. You have nothing to lose!
So, the muscles that are commonly tied to headaches are the suboccipital muscles. These are very small muscles that attach to the base of the skull. They tend to shorten and become knotted up with lots of sitting. While in that seated position with a forward head posture you shorten them. This done everyday while at work, in the car, and even at home can cause headaches.
To loosen up the suboccipital muscles, you must find a nice firm chair. Next you place both hands behind the head at the base. To find the base you just have to run your fingers to the back of the head and start at the tops of the ears.
After you have your hand placement correct, then you bring your chin to your chest. As you do this, try to pull the base of the skull upwards. By trying both of these movements you give those headache muscles a great stretch. When done for 30-60 seconds every 2 hours, you can get some great relief from headaches if their coming about from this muscle.
That’s it for today everyone, remember movement is medicine!
P.S. To see a video of myself performing the headache stretch, feel free to head over to our Facebook page (Sisson & Associates- The Physical Therapy and Wellness Experts of Montross) to check out the video as well as other simple videos to help with neck pain. If your more of a visual person you will love this!