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Help Tension Headaches: Get Relief with these 4 Easy Stretches

Tension headache is the most common type of headache affecting about 40% of the Canadian population. It is often less severe than migraine although the symptoms can be bothersome because they could include pressure pain on both sides of the head that may last for several days. Severe cases of tension headache may accompany nausea and vomiting.

Tension headaches can be mild to moderate with pain felt at the back of neck and tightness across the head along with an aching sensation more focused above the eyes area. Unlike cluster headache and migraine, tension headache is not worsened by activities.

The most common factors that cause tension headache are stress, sleep deprivation, eye strain and skipping meals. Other trigger may include depression, alcohol, prolonged use of computer and hormonal changes primarily in women.



If the pain is reoccurring, it’s important to address it right away. To find an appropriate tension headache relief, it is recommended that you seek help from a qualified clinician who can evaluate a specific treatment and find the roots of your pain so it will not come back again.

On the other hand, mild and moderate tension headache can be relieved with simple relaxation techniques, OTC medication and easy stretches.

How to Relieve Tension Headache

Tension headache is likely to happen again and again if you are stressed. The pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. For some people, hot or cold shower help relieve tension headache. Resting in a quiet, cool room and putting a cool clothe on your forehead can also ease out the pain.

There are gentle exercises that can help alleviate head pain related to stress and tight muscles in the upper back or neck.

Chin Tuck Stretch

Poor working posture, repetitive action and stress are common to office workers. The chin tuck stretch helps strengthen the upper back muscles and pull the head back into alignment. This exercise can be done a few times a day even at your seat. To perform a simple chin tuck stretch, look straight ahead with back aligned to your head. Gently bend your head forward towards your chest until you feel that gentle stretch at the back of your neck. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and slowly get back to the starting point. Repeat a few times.

Lateral Flexion Stretch

The lateral flexion (ear to shoulder) stretch aims to relieve tension on the neck muscles. Gently bend your neck to the left side, attempting to touch your left ear to your shoulder. Pause when a stretch is felt in the right side of your neck. Use your hand to gently create a further stretch. The gentle pressure shouldn’t cause pain. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Do it on the other side. Do 10 of this routine for each side.

Muscle relaxing exercise

Lie down, breath in and out slowly. Rotate your head in a smooth circular way twice and then roll shoulders forward and back several times. Do these repeatedly until you feel your muscles relaxed.  Take a deep breathe, breath out slowly to finish off.

Wind Relieving Pose for Tension Headache

The wind relieving pose focuses on relieving the spine and neck area. This exercise can help excess gas from the body.  Yoga Basics recommend this routine to do the wind relieving pose for tension headache.

Lying on your back, inhale both knees into your chest. Wrap the arms around the knees, holding on to opposite elbows, forearms, wrists or fingers. Tuck the chin into the chest with the head on the floor. Press the sacrum and tailbone down into the floor as you pull the knees into the chest using the arms. Press the shoulders and the back of the neck down into the floor, trying to get the back and whole spine flat to the floor. Relax the legs, feet and hips. Breathe and hold 4-8 breaths, breathing deeply into the belly, actively pressing it against the thighs on the inhalation. To release: exhale and release the arms and legs to the floor.

Permanent Tension Headache Relief

Although tension headache is relatively common and not fatal, it’s bothersome and can widely affect your daily activities. To address the root cause of your pain, start with a no obligation appointment from Body Restoration and speak with a qualified pain expert. Get sound advice as to the right tension headache treatment for you and what you can do to stop it from coming back.


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