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Episode 268: Tension Headache Relief: More Drills

Video Highlights

- Your neck as a source.
- Easy drill instructions.
- Drill sequence suggestion.

Today we’re going to look at two interesting exercises for tension headache. I want to talk briefly today about tension headaches and some of things that you can actually do at home, at work to help relieve some of the maybe upper cervical, upper neck stress that you sometimes get that cause eventually tension headaches.

So when we focus on this particular type of headache obviously we talk about tension being muscle tension. Often that will be tension that’s coming from the muscles of the upper neck that then causes additional tension in muscles in our, usually jaw or temporalis or masseter.

So a lot of times what we’ll see with people is they start off with shoulder tension and then it goes to neck tension and then that eventually becomes kind of this band of a headache across the back of the head, maybe even coming into the temples.

So whenever we work on this, the first thing that we tend to look at is mobility and control of the upper cervical spine. So we’re going start with a little exercise. We’ve shown it in the past but it’s called a sliding nod. It’s very simple but the idea is that I’m going to take my chin, I’m going to close my mouth. I’m going to take my chin then and I’m going to try to move it toward my throat. Not my chest, but through my throat.

When I do that it’s actually going to create a lot of stretch in my, at the upper part of my neck. There’s a region, the upper part of your neck, just underneath the bone called the suboccipital region and that’s really where we’re trying to feel this movement. So again, close my mouth, chin to throat. Once I’m in that position, what I’m going to do is a small nod and then I’m going to pull my chin back a little bit.

So as I increase the flexion and then I move into what’s called a retraction. So if I do that and my head is straight, you can see it’s actually a really small movement. It was not a lot going on but that gives me quite a lot of mobilization in the stretch of these suboccipital muscles.

Now after I’ve done five or six reps of that, I then want to transition a little bit of a stretching feel up into the skull.

Woman sitting at desk with laptop open holding her head like she has a headache

The way we’re going to do that is by changing our head and neck position a little bit and changing our jaw position.

This looks strange on camera so if you have to do it at work go in the bathroom. But basically what I want you to do now is I’m going to have you palpate or feel this kind of bony ridge right through here on your skull and we’re going to work on the right side first. All right, just assuming this is your right side, your tension side.

So this time I’m going to tuck my chin towards my chest or toward my throat and then toward my chest. So throat, chest. Now from here I’m going to open my mouth and I’m going to move my jaw away from the side that I’m touching. All right. Again, looks weird but once I’m in that position if I do the same nodding motion and retraction motion usually you’ll feel a pretty strong stretch that goes right up where your fingers are currently feeling.

Alright, so we’ll do that again. Jaw to throat and then to chest. Move the jaw away, the we’re going to do a small nod and then a retraction.

Alright, this is a great way to really focus on tension on one side of the skull. So if you have right-side tension headaches, right-side neck issues try this combination of these two and do it in a sequence. Start off with that first sliding nod. After you’ve done that then we’ll use the jaw mobilization to take the stretch a little bit higher up in the side where you have the problems.

Hopefully this does a lot to relieve some of your tension and also to decrease your pain.

If you have any questions about this, let us know. Otherwise explore this carefully.

Good luck. I hope this helps.

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