Headaches are some of the more annoying ailments that commonly affect us, causing a variety of symptoms varying from dull achey pain right through to severe migraines with nausea and vomiting. So what can we do about them?
Firstly, any headache which is constant, associated with vomiting, dizziness or changes to vision, severely throbbing or worsened when putting your head between knees need to be checked over by your GP or Osteopath to see if it is from a muscular cause, or something else.
Those dull, annoying headaches which sit behind your eyes, feel like they come from the back of your neck or feel like a vice around your head? That’s where these tips can help!
As shown in the diagram above, massage the lumpy bits of muscle around your temples in a circular fashion whilst slowly opening and closing your mouth. You don’t need to apply excessive pressure or force. Continue for as long as is comfortable, or about 2 minutes at a time.
As shown above, stretch your trapezius muscle. This muscle runs down the side of your neck and out across your shoulder and often is sore after holding sustained positions at a desk – such as during work or study.
In order to stretch your traps – hold your head to the side and gently pull with your opposite hand (as shown above). Hold for a count of 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Tension-type headaches and chronic (recurrent) migraines are often closely linked with stress. Meditation, mindfulness and stress management strategies can be helpful in reducing and preventing headaches if undertaken consistently.
One easy mindfulness exercise is to focus on breathing.
Find a comfortable, quiet spot – bonus points for fresh air – and sit with your eyes closed.
Take a breath in through your nose, hold for 2 seconds, then exhale as you count five seconds.
Repeat 10 – 20 breaths (as long as you’re not getting dizzy! Stop and breathe normally if you are!)
As you practice your breaths, try to focus only on your breathing and allow any other intrusive thoughts to float away!
There is no “perfect posture” to prevent headaches, however repetitive positions may cause strain on certain muscles which can result in headaches. If you work at a desk, are breastfeeding, studying or have any other occupational demand on your neck and shoulders, the best thing you can do to prevent a headache is vary your position often! Try a sit/stand desk, use a breastfeeding pillow, take regular desk breaks and get out for a walk here and there!
Heat pack on shoulders
Those suffering from tension-type headaches, or shoulder/neck muscular related headaches may find relief from applying a heat pack to their shoulders. Aim to apply the heat pack to the fleshy part of muscle where the neck meets the shoulders. Apply for 20 minutes, and ensure that the heat pack isn’t so hot as to cause burns.
Ice pack on forehead
Migraine sufferers may find a cool pack on their forehead helps – ice packs specifically for this purpose are available from Pharmacies, however the “Dog cooling collar” available at Kmart has also been receiving rave reviews from migraine sufferers in place of a forehead ice pack! Apply to the forehead for 20 minutes at a time.