I think everyone knows what a headache or migraine feels like. Sometimes it seems like they come out of nowhere, but migraines can get bad enough to make you cancel your plans for the rest of the day. Common migraines and headaches are often caused by your shoulder and neck muscles being too tight–which is something that happens a lot when you’re stressed out.
Other than taking medicine, the best fix would be to eliminate stress altogether, which could probably get rid of a majority of your headaches/migraines. But realistically, that’s not a medicine that we can prescribe. We can, however, recommend some great stretches that you can do to help alleviate the muscle tension and try to help get rid of the migraine.
Before you try these stretches, remember to calm your breathing as well. Deep, slow breaths in and out while doing your stretches will help calm your mind and body. Slow flow yoga practices are a perfect example of what to aim for. So here are a few basic, but effective stretches that can help with your headaches:
Chin tuck: This is a good stretch to start with. You can do this seated or standing, it doesn’t matter. Relax your shoulders and stretch your head forward and down gently until you feel a stretch at the base of your neck. Hold for 5 seconds and then bring your head back up, and repeat.
Neck rotations: Next, do neck rotations to continue stretching out your neck. I mentioned these in our blog about neck pain here.
Upper Trapezius Stretch: Still seated or standing, this stretch involves pulling your head toward one side to loosen up your upper traps (also covered in the Neck Pain blog).
Child’s Pose: Now kneeling on the floor, spread your knees outward and keep your feet together as you lengthen your spine and lower down until your head touches the floor/mat, stretching your hands as far away from you as possible. Child’s pose is a calming and gentle stretch, good to do anytime you feel stressed out, tense, anxious.
Downward-facing Dog: Everyone should know this pose, so I don’t need to explain it, but it’ll help loosen up your shoulders and bring some blood-flow to your head. Make sure you’re breathing in this pose. If you’d like, also try the Dolphin Pose, which opens up your shoulders even more.
Bridge Pose: This is another yoga stretch that will stretch your neck, spine, and chest. Somewhat like doing glute bridges, but you want to bring your hands together beneath you and lift the inner parts of your shoulder blades (at the base of your neck) off of the ground as well, opening up your chest.
There are many other useful upper body stretches that can help as well, but sometimes it’s just about giving your body and mind a break from the things that cause us to tighten up and making sure that we’re taking nice and slow breaths. It’s even possible to meditate as a way to manage headaches. So if you’re looking for alternative ways for headache relief other than medicine, try these exercises out!