Tension Headache Advice and Remedies from our Chiropractic Sports Specialist

Brought to you by Dr. Sajko – Chiropractic Sports Specialist

Info to consider

• These headaches can be defined as pain in a band form across the
forehead often caused by muscle tightness or spassicity in the neck and
shoulder region. These painful muscles or tight muscles can ofen refer
pain to the head which causes a painful band or tightness around the

• These headaches are commonly confused with migraines. Migraines typically cause visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting.

• Tension headaches are very common, affecting 30-80% of the population

• These headaches affect productivity, colleagues, friends and family
because of the effect they can have on the person who is getting them

• One way to prevent these types of headaches is to frequently take
brief breaks throughout the day and stretch in the shoulder and neck
area to reduce build up of tension

Elbows in the Back Pocket


• Stretches and relaxes the upper body, shoulder muscles and neck
muscles, therefore, preventing any kind of tightness that can refer to
tension headaches

• Relieves tension in the shoulder area which allows blood vessels to
dilate better and reduce restriction of blood flow into the head

• Great for people who use upper body in one position a lot, such as those at computers,


• If there is any pain, please see your doctor and get it checked out.

• If you have untreated high blood pressure, lifting your arms over the
shoulder height will add blood pressure to the heart. Be careful and
modify to not lift arms up as high

Key Points

• Maintain a neutral posture (straight back)

• When lifting arms up, lift them forward on a slight angle as though
you are reaching for a shelf in a cupboard (as opposed to straight up
over head)

• Let the elbows draw back which draws the shoulder blades together

• Draw elbows down towards the waist

• Inhale arms up, exhale them down


• From a sitting or standing position (it does not matter), bring arms
straight out in front of you and raise the arms to just above the height
of the head (height is dependant on you)

• As you exhale, draw the elbows back and concentrate on the shoulder blades moving towards each other

• Once the elbows are at about the level of the sides of the body, drop
them down towards the waist as though you are tucking them into the back
pockets of your pants

• Hold for 2-3 seconds while you continue to breathe deeply

• Begin the next repeat on an inhale as you bring your arms out in front and begin again.

• Repeat 2-3 times or more and as often as possible throughout the day.
If you do a job or are in a task that uses a lot of upper body strain
(such as typing), make sure you do this often for a ‘quick’ reliever of
stress build up. Great advantage is that it feels awesome.

Basic neck stretches


• Lengthens muscles in the neck that may have pain referral from tight shoulders

• If you tilt your neck one way more than the other because of the way
you hold the phone or the way your computer or other visual point is set
up, this stretch can benefit you by stretching the tilted side twice as
many times as the other side to bring about balance to the neck muscle

• Reduces pain referral into the head area


• If you are suffering from an injury that has not been seen by a
professional, please get it checked first. If there is any pain when you
do this exercise please stop right away.

• If there is any swelling in the neck, please make sure you do not do this without seeing a medical expert first.

Key Points:

• Can be done sitting or standing

• Keep shoulders drawn down and aligned across from each other throughout the stretch.

• Draw ear towards shoulder; not the other way around


• From sitting or standing make sure your shoulders are in neutral
position to start (shoulder blades drawn towards each other and down
from ears)

• On an exhale, tilt the head so that the ear is drawing towards the shoulder

• Stay in this position for 10 – 15 seconds breathing deeply

• For increased stretch you can take your hand to the opposite temple
and, using the breath, exhale and draw the ear closer to the shoulder.
Breathe deeply and feel the opposite neck muscles lengthen and soften
while you do this. Draw the shoulder away from the ear of the side that
is stretching (slowly and with the breath)

• Make sure that while the neck is stretching, you are visualizing it releasing and softening and lengthening

• Bring the head back to neutral and repeat on the other side

• As an option if you have neck issues on one side, repeat with a ratio
of 2 to 1 on that side so that it lengthens this side to be balanced
with the other

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