Headaches: Causes and Cures | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Headaches: Causes and Cures

July 16, 2012

The headache.  One of the most common, if not the most common afflictions.  Almost everyone can say that they have had a headache at least once in their life.  And unfortunately having a headache could mean nothing or it could be the sign of something very serious and life threatening.  Thankfully, the headaches most of us experience will be for mundane reasons that are easily fixable.  However, if you are reading this article and you are getting headaches, this article is not meant to take the place of seeing a medical professional.  Consult your doctor for any issues you may be having, do not rely on this blog alone.  However, there are some very common causes and some very easy fixes to your headaches.

Tension – “My kids give me such a headache.”  There is some truth to this.  Along with work, significant others, bills, and every other stressful thing we deal with in our lives.  Many people don’t realize that our body reacts to stressful situations, not just mentally but physically too.  We tense up.  We don’t realize that we do, but our neck and shoulders become stiffer.  It is a natural reaction, that we have a hard time overcoming due to the fact that most of us have no idea that we are doing it.  Our bodies are programmed to do it.  If you were to consciously try to to push your shoulders down, I bet most of you would find that your shoulders drop a considerable amount.  This is how your body carries stress.  Most of us start bringing our shoulders up towards our ears.  We do this unconsciously but it shortens the muscles in our neck.  And repeated shrugging allows for those muscles to become accustomed to being in a shortened position.  This shortened position will begin to pull on the muscles of the head, thus causing a headache.

Notice how the muscles of the shoulders and neck go up and attach on the base of the skull. It is the shortening of these muscles that can cause the head to pulled on thus causing headaches.

What do you need to do?  Push your shoulders down.  Easy enough.  No.  Not at all.  I suffered from these types of headaches and I can attest this is no easy feat.  Why?  Because after awhile your muscles want your shoulders to be lifted up towards your ears, you have trained them that that is where they should be.  It literally took me telling myself 1000 times a day to put my shoulders down to retrain my muscles, and I know better.  Most people will require physical therapy to relieve the shortened muscles and strengthen the muscles that have become weak.  Manual or hands on therapy will need to be done in order to aid in reducing the trigger points located in these muscles.  Proper posture must be paid close attention to and adjustments at work and home must be made.  These headaches can become bad enough that they can become debilitating so you must pay attention to these when they come on and get help for them sooner rather than later.

For more information on physical therapy services head to www.totalperformancept.com.

Stomach Sleeping – If you’re a stomach sleeper the excuses have already started to mount in your head on why I am wrong about this or different ways you are going to sleep on your stomach in order so that YOU are the only person able to sleep on your stomach with your neck twisted all night long and it be okay.  The truth of the matter is, I have heard them all before, every single last bargaining chip, justification, beg, plead, you name it.  People think that if they compromise with me that it will somehow change the verdict.  But at the end of the day, no matter how much pleading you do it does not change the fact that when you stomach sleep you are cramming your bones into position that are irritating nerves and limiting blood supplies.

Nerves and blood supply come out of each the spaces in each vertebrae in your neck. Turning your head all night while stomach sleeping will decrease blood flow and can cause headaches and numbness and tingling in your hands.

The only way to stomach sleep is to purchase a face pillow, or pillow with a hole in for your face to rest in.  The you place a pillow underneath your stomach.  This will allow your vertebrae to stay in line all night and not interrupt nerve function or blood flow.  For those of you that have been sleeping like this ‘forever’, it will take some time and adjustment but it is imperative to continue the health of your neck and reduce headaches.

Dehydration – Most people don’t realize the toll being dehydrated takes on your body.  64 ounces of water a day is recommended and that is if you don’t drink soda and coffee that will dehydrate you.  Most people admittedly don’t drink 16 ounces of water let alone 64 ounces.  Sugary drinks do not provide the hydration needed.  Drinking water will also help you feel full for anyone looking to lose weight.  People always underestimate how drinking water can help a lot of ailments you are experiencing.

Poor Posture –  One of the things people never hesitate to admit to me is that they have poor posture.  Most people are free and open about it but yet few do anything about it.  Poor posture can cause many many injuries, one of which is headaches.  Sitting at a computer for hours at a time is detrimental to your health.  Your joints suffer greatly when you sit all day, even i you are sitting correctly.  But most people aren’t and this poor posture can lead to decreased blood flow and decreased nerve function.  This decreased blood flow and poor muscle balance will lead to headaches, even migraines.  To read about correct posture, click here.

Most headaches are preventable, it just takes some work to figure out why you get them before you can prevent them.

For more information on physical therapy services head to www.totalperformance.com.