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Headaches

by Specialized Orthopedics October 29, 2021
Headaches and neck tension

Did you know that most headaches are related to tension or muscle tightness in your neck?

Headaches are one of the most common afflictions that are experienced daily in our society.  Headaches affect people of all ages and does not discriminate with gender or background.  However, did you know that most headaches are related to tension or muscle tightness in your neck?  We often refer to these types of headaches as cervicogenic tension headaches.  The positive side to this is that Physical Therapy can help!

Your neck’s most important responsibility is to hold your head up on top of the cervical spine and maintain the appropriate positions.  It does this through an intricate array of muscles that originate from the cervical spine, clavicle (collarbone), and scapula (shoulder blade) and attach to various points on the skull.  These muscles work in synchrony to hold and move your head in various planes and ranges smoothly.

Neck muscles in front
Neck Muscles in back

However, sometimes the balance of these muscles gets thrown off, typically due to postural overuse.  This occurs when chronic poor (forward) posture develops due to working in front of a computer or sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time every day.  The tendency is for the muscles in the front of the neck and shoulders to shorten while the muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders become elongated and concurrently weaker.  This results in a “forward head” which creates chronic and constant tension on the muscles in the back of the neck presenting as dull achy pain in the upper neck that radiates up into the head creating the Headache!

Luckily there are a couple of exercise that could pay immediate dividends and help alleviate your Headache!

SCM/scalene stretch

Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times

SCM Scalene Stretch

Shoulder blade pinch with chin tuck

Squeeze your shoulder blades while gently tucking your chin back and hold for 5 seconds, relax, and then repeat 10 more times.

Shoulder Blade Pinch stretch

Doorway Pec stretch

Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Doorway Pec Stretch

The idea here is to stretch the front of the neck and chest while gently strengthening the muscles in the back of the neck to restore balance of the cervical musculature.  Hopefully these exercises will help relieve your cervicogenic tension headache.

If these exercises are unsuccessful then it is time for you to reach out to our Warwick (401-384-6490) or North Kingstown (401-329-0050) office immediately to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained Physical Therapists!

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