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Head Hurt? 4 Tips to Help Manage and Reduce Headaches


Most of those reading this can say at some point in time they have experienced the not-so-pleasant sensation of a headache. For many, this can be a daily occurrence. In our modern world, stress, constant stimulation, always being on the move and poor posture are daily factors that can trigger a headache.

headache

It is estimated that 1 in 20 adults suffers from daily headaches.


For many, the cause of the pain may not be in the head, but below in the spine and surrounding musculature. We use the term “cerviogenic” headache to denote those which are caused by muscle or joint dysfunction in the cervical region.


Stiffness in the cervical spine joints can refer to pain up into the back of the head. Myofascial trigger points in the muscles that lie within the front and back of the neck as well as the base of the skull can have their own unique referral patterns which many would describe as a headache.


While this might make it seem like there is a whole new list of things to worry about, there are many easy-to-implement interventions to help alleviate and reduce headaches. Below we will go over four ways you can start taking control of your headaches today.


4 Tips to help manage your headaches:


Physical Therapy:


If you suffer from regular headaches, it is worth having a physical therapy evaluation. Doing so will allow your PT to pinpoint exactly what muscle or joint may be causing you to have your headaches and create a plan of care to address them. Manual therapies including soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, and functional dry needling have all been proven beneficial in managing and eliminating headaches.


In addition, the implementation of biofeedback training has been shown to provide long-term benefits in reducing headaches. A study in 2019 found that biofeedback using a simple blood pressure cuff to teach patients to utilize their deep cervical muscles was effective in reducing headaches 2, 4, and 8 weeks after the start of care.


Workspace Ergonomics:

One of the most beneficial things you can do is to make sure any workspace is set up for success. There has been a correlation between poor ergonomic setup and musculoskeletal injuries which can be a cause for cervicogenic headaches.

Proper ergonomic desk setup
Workspace Ergonomics

Generally, I recommend someone who is working at the computer to either stand every 20-25 minutes or if possible, work at a standing desk that easily moves up and down to change their position throughout the day. That being said, standing for 8 hours without a change in position is no better than sitting for 8 hours. Our bodies are built to move frequently throughout the day.





Diaphragmatic Breathing:

This has become more and more mainstream than it once was with a focus in healthcare shifting to treating the whole person. Diaphragmatic breathing can be beneficial for many health ailments by allowing your body to tap into its parasympathetic nervous system. If you remember from

Diaphragmatic breathing exercise

9th-grade biology your parasympathetic nervous system is the one responsible for allowing you to “rest and digest.”


The incorporation of daily diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to greatly reduce stress by allowing your body to relax. Many studies over the last several years have shown the effect of diaphragmatic breathing and its positive effect on managing stress levels.




Movement:

The last and easiest way to help reduce or eliminate a headache is to frequently move your body. Many people who work at a desk can spend anywhere from 2 hours to a full day of work without getting up from their chair or moving their body.


Frequent movement not only can alleviate stiff muscles and joints but also gives your brain feedback as to where your body is in space and can be an easy reminder to return to a more appropriate postural position.


Try these two easy movement exercises throughout your workday every 20-30 minutes!

seated cervical extension exercise
seated thoracic rotation exercise

If you have any prior injuries we recommend talking to a physical therapist or other health care professional before implementing a new exercise routine.

 

Want to take control of your headaches? Schedule your free discovery visit today!










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