Stretch Your Headaches Away!

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Stretch Your Headaches Away!

Headaches are a common reason for people to visit a chiropractor.  When assessing a patient with headaches, the first thing we need to do is determine what type of headache is affecting the patient.  One of the most common types of headache we see in our office is a cervicogenic headache.  Cervicogenic is a term that describes something that originates in the neck area.  These types of headaches are caused by some type of dysfunction of the vertebral joints, discs or nerves in the neck.  The pain is usually one sided and can spread to affect the temples and forehead.  Often times the headache can be triggered by pressure applied to one side of the neck.  Cervicogenic headaches usually involve a significant amount of muscle tension as well, so in addition to adjustments, stretches are an essential part of the treatment plan.  Three simple exercises can make a big difference in helping prevent the neck tightness that can eventually lead to headaches:

  1.  Chin tucks – lying flat on your back with a towel rolled under your neck, pull your chin straight back as if someone was gently pushing your chin.  Be sure to move your chin backwards as opposed to down. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 5-10 times
  2. Scapular retractions – in the seated position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are trying to hold a pencil between them.  Your arms should not move backwards while your perform this exercise.  Try to keep your shoulders down as well.  This is actually a great exercise to help correct a slouchy posture.  Hold for 5-8 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.
  3. Corner Pec stretch – facing a corner, place your hands and forearms up against the walls with your elbows at 90 degrees.  Gently lean towards the wall until you feel a stretch across the front of the shoulder and chest.  Hold for 20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

If you have a hard time visualizing these movements, check out the link below for a short video courtesy of Madden Physical Therapy in Harrisburg, PA.

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