Can You Fix Headaches Through Exercise?
Updated: Jan 13
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from new clients (as well as family and friends) is headaches. Tension headaches are the most common, but migraines are quite common, and if you've ever had one, you know how debilitating they can be. I'm glad to report that through my work with my clients' posture and muscular re-balancing, I have achieved a great success rate in reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches, even migraines. But how
does exercise help with headaches, exactly?
The simplest answer is that most headaches are in large part due to muscular tension. The other biggest factor is stress, which physically manifests in muscular tension of the neck, shoulder and back. Since the human response to stress is circular, reducing muscular tension of the upper back and neck will help reduce stress to some extent. Therefore exercise and postural work will not only help avoid headaches through physical rebalancing, but also through reducing stress.
Postural work always includes a breathing component and a mindfulness component, because without improving your breath and focus, it is difficult to achieve a new, more balanced posture. Improving your breathing can have a tremendous impact on your health, including eliminating headaches, because shallow, rapid breathing produces an increase in adrenaline, which increases stress through the fight-or-flight response. Steady, deep breathing increases parasympathetic nervous system activation, which shuts down muscle tension, slow the heart rate and decreases anxiety, all great things to reduce headaches.
The actual exercise component of my routines focus on finding a better position for your neck, shoulders and upper spine. Since every individual is different, I start with a detailed assessment of the entire musculo-skeletal system, and proceed from there to build a program unique to each client. As your posture slowly improves and your physical conditioning improves, the rate and intensity of headaches will steadily decrease.
The last component is ergonomics: the continuous improvements you can make to your daily activities to improve your posture. How you sit at work or while driving, how you sleep and even how you exercise all either add or detract to your daily physical stress level, and are critical in improving posture and headache symptoms.
If you are suffering from tension headaches and need relief, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm here to help!