Headache? Try This:
I often wake up in the mornings with awful headaches that have seemingly no cause. Sometimes they got better as the day goes on, and sometimes not. Even worse, ibuprofen, Advil, water, electrolytes, you name it - never help.
I’ve always been an anxious person, and hold most of my stress and tension in my neck and shoulders. A few months ago, I was driving to work with one of these bad headaches. For whatever reason, I briefly rubbed the base of my neck. It felt really great, so I kept applying pressure. Before I knew it, the headache was subsiding, and I could literally feel a knot! This discovery has been a game changer for me!! I’ve put two and two together, and have come to the conclusion that 99% of the time, these headaches that I wake up with are tension headaches. I clench my teeth in my sleep, am often in odd positions, have stressful dreams, and on top of all of that, am a generally “tight” and anxious person. The headaches can also develop throughout the day, especially if I’m spending a lot of time driving, crouching over a computer, or am in a high-stress environment. If any of theses symptoms sound familiar, the next time you wake up with a headache or develop one throughout the day for no obvious reason, give these exercises a try before you pop the pain killers! They have been saviors for me, always relieve my tension headache. Foam roll: Very gently place a medium to hard foam roller under the base of your neck while lying on the floor. Gently apply pressure to the temples and throughout the entirety of your neck.
As you find tender spots, slowly apply more pressure for up to two minutes. This can also be done with a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or with the hands in the form of a massage. For further relief, also foam rollthe upper back, shoulders, and lats. Stretch: Sitting on the ground with good posture, slowly move your head up and down for one minute. Look as high above you as you can, and then move your chin towards your chest. Next, alternate between looking over each shoulder as far as you can. With both of these movements, keep your posture as tall and straight-forward as possible. You should only be moving your head and neck, not shoulders or torso. Move: Get up and walk! Although this doesn’t seem appealing with a headache, this often is a major trigger for relief. Get outside, stretch your body, breathe in the fresh air, walk, run, whatever feels good. If you are a “scrunched” up sleeper like me, or get really pulled into your work for long periods of time, your body may collect tension in your shoulders and neck. So big elongated movement helps to stretch out the body, relax those tight muscles, and relieve tension. Again, with all of these exercises and movements, focus on tall posture. Imagine you are squeezing your shoulder blades together, and your shoulders must stay as far away from your ears as possible.
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