5 top tips to relieve headaches

1. Increase your water uptake

Dehydration is one of the main causes of headaches. Drink at least 2 litres of water over 2-3 hours.

2. Increase your thoracic mobility 

When your thoracic (upper back) is stiff your head sits further forward. This makes the muscles that run up to the base of the skull work harder than they should and become tight and sore. Doing thoracic mobility exercises is very helpful. See exercises below.

3. Meditate for 5 minutes 

This will help your muscles relax and increase the oxygen levels in the blood as long as you take some nice deep breaths while you are meditating.

4. Take a 20 min break from electronic devices

Over use of electronic devices such as computers, iPhones, etc for extended periods of time can aggravate your neck and strain your eyes. If you already have a headache take a 20 min break where possible. If you start to feel your eyes strain look away and focus on something in the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This will stop your eyes fatiguing.

5. Get your neck assessed by a physiotherapist 

Dysfunction in the first three cervical vertebrae can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea. These are called cervicogenic headaches. Having these vertebrae gently realigned and your thoracic spine mobilised by your physio will help immensely.

Thoracic Mobility Exercises

Bow and Arrow:

  • Lie on your side with your knees bent up
  • Place your head on a pillow or a rolled up towel
  • Bring your top arm back like you are about to shoot a bow and arrow
  • Keep your hips still
  • Repeat 10 each side

Thoracic Extension

  • Lie over either a foam roller or a rolled up towel
  • Allow your thoracic (upper back) to extend gently until you feel gentle stretch
  • Hold there for 1-3 minutes

Headache Physiotherapy: How your neck causes your headache

Headaches and migraines can be very debilitating and affect approximately 50% of the population.

There can be a range of causes responsible for headaches. Some of the latest research has shown that dysfunction in the top three vertebrae of the spine is a major contributor to headaches and migraines. This is the case is because it has been shown that the brainstem has become sensitised. This means that normal stimuli that is transmitted through the brain stem is interpreted in a different way to normal by the brain.

The areas that transmit stimuli through the brain stem are:

  • Neck
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Nose and Sinuses
  • Forehead
  • Sinuses
  • Scalp

This is why if one of your triggers is associated with one of the areas mentioned above, dysfunction in the neck may be a causative factor.

Treatment of the cervical spine consisting of gentle mobilisation helps to reduce the dysfunction of the cervical spine, therefore decreasing the sensitisation of the brainstem. This leads to a decrease in headaches and migraines.