Simple Stretches To Keep Common Headaches At Bay

HeadachesThe first step in preventing or treating a headache is to identify the cause. The most common headache tend to fall into four major categories: cluster headache, tension headache, migraine and chronic daily headache.

Cluster Headache

Sometimes known as ‘the demon of headaches’, cluster headache strikes with little warning, often waking up the sufferer in the middle of the night. The pain usually affects just one side of the face, centering on the eye. It typically lasts for between 15 minutes and three hours, and may return up to ten times a day for six to ten weeks (the cluster period) before disappearing for months or years.

The Cause Of Cluster Headache

No one is sure of the cause, but it is thought that some sort of irritation to the facial nerves may be to blame. Cluster headaches are more common in men, especially those who smoke or drink.

Tension Headache

Tension headache is the most common type of headache, and is characterized by a dull, steady pain on both sides of the head. The sufferer often feels as if a tight band, or heavy weight were pressing down on them.

The Cause Of Tension Headache

This headache is usually a direct result of stress, which causes the muscles of the neck and scalp to knot up. It can also be brought on by bad posture, sitting in a draught, bright lights, too much noise, or sitting or working in an awkward position.


Migraine can be divided into two main categories. Classic migraines are usually preceded by an ‘aura’, a visual disturbance such as flashing lights, zig zag patterns and general blurring. With common migraine, which affects about 65% of sufferers, there is little or no warning. The pain develops slowly into a throbbing ache, often aggravated by movement or noise. Nausea and vomiting are common with both types.

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The Cause Of Migraine

Migraine are believed to be the result of changes in the neurotransmitters and blood vessels in the brain. What cause these changes is unknown. Triggers include stress, foods such as cheese, alcohol and chocolate, lack of food or irregular meals, fatigue and hormonal factors such as periods. Menstrual migraines which affects about 10% of female migraine sufferers, are thought to relate to the drop is estrogen at this time of the month.

Chronic Daily Headache

To be termed a chronic headache, the pain has to occur on more than 15 days every month.

The Cause Of Chronic Daily Headache

Neck or head injury such as whiplash or overuse of painkillers. With sufferers who take painkillers on a daily basis, a vicious circle can develop. As the painkillers wear off, there is a rebound headache, so the sufferer takes more painkillers and the painkillers start to fuel the headache.

Exercise To Keep Headaches At Bay

These simple to follow exercises can help strengthen the neck area, and relieve tension, one of the most common causes of headaches.

The Face Clock

  1. Lie on your back, bend on your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Place a rolled up towel under your neck for support.
  2. Now imagine you are facing a clock. Slowly trace the outline of its shape with the tip of your nose, clockwise then anticlockwise. Repeat 3 times in each direction.

Neck Roll

  1. Now turn your head slowly from side to side, going just as far as is comfortable, and keeping your chin level.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times to each side.
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Neck Stretch

  1. Sit in a straight backed chair. Slightly lower your chin and tilt your head to the left, with your chin down and towards the right.
  2. With your left hand, gently pull your head to the left, but not to the point of pain. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Shoulder Squeeze

  1. Lift your arms until they are parallel with the floor. Bend your elbows, keeping them at shoulder height, so your forearms are vertical.
  2. Keeping your back straight, push your arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Flexing The Neck

  1. Put your left arm behind you and rest your forearm against your lower back for support.
  2. Gently let your chin drop towards your chest until you feel a slightly stretch in the back of the neck. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. To increase the stretch, place the other hand over the back of the head.

For best results, hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. Don’t force any movements or overstretch. Stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Quick Tips To Avoid Headaches

  • Make sure you get enough sleep and eat regular meals
  • Cut down on coffee and alcohol
  • Get plenty of exercise and fresh air. Regular walking, jogging or swimming for instance, will help to ward off neck and shoulder tension
  • Take a look at your stress levels and practise some form of relaxation technique regularly
  • Pay attension to your posture

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9 Responses

  1. Sng Irene says:

    I am maintaining a blog on self-improvement. This is more towards the psychological and self-awareness aspect of human. Your post here is another aspect to this blog of mine in terms of healing and medical. Self-improvement should also encompass this area. Thanks for sharing.
    Tension headache is one sticky problem that I have. Your method to prevent it looks good. Will try this (or rather don’t have the chance)when it come.
    Cheers! HAve a nice day!

  2. Great post! Very informative. There are so many proven benefits to a healthy diet along with exercise. Headaches is just another thing to add to the positive list. A regular work out routine along with a healthy diet goes a long way. Food is fuel for our bodies, everything that we eat will make a difference on how we feel, how much energy we have, along with aches and pains like headaches. Exercise is also very important for our bodies. Performing a strength training work out a few days a week for 20 minutes will do wonders for your body. If your lifestyle does not allow you to travel back and forth to the gym all week long perhaps a home gym would be the perfect option. On a home gym, you will be able to perform a TOTAL BODY work out in the comfort of your own home at a time that is convenient for you.

  3. I actually have never heard of stretching to prevent headaches. I will have to give this a try.
    I tend to get small headaches that turn into migraines when I work too much. The best medicine I have found so far is to stop working when it is small and get a reflexology foot massage and it goes right away.

  4. payday loans says:

    This was a great post next time I have a headach I will most defently be trying these.

  5. This was a great article !
    I am always interested in articles that discuss tension headaches. Tension headache can be solved with stretches but sometimes stretches really don’t do anything – for me it often does not work
    I am at my desk and i am going to try the simple exercises you recommend !

  6. Electrical says:

    I have suffered from tension headaches for the last 2 years, i have had severe depression in this time and my doctor actually advised me to do similar stretghes to relieve the pain, at first i thought he was crazy, the last thing you want to do it move around too much when you’ve got a headache but I found very quickly that they work, especially if used everyday, as a preventative method, even if you havn’t got a headaghe this keeps it at bay, particually the slow neck excersizes.

  7. I have actually heard that headaches are commonly caused by dehydration. Try having a glass or two of water the next time you get a head ache; you might find that it helps. Thanks for the information.

  8. Andy@warmfront grants says:

    i suffer from cluster headaches they are not funny at all, nothing you do can take away the pain but oxygen an help an awful lot!

  9. I havee suffered with cluster headaches for 3-4 years now, they are dibilitating, i have found the best way to treat them is plenty of tepid water, sitting still and tiger balm ointment on the temples works wonders to relaxthe muscles.

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