As mentioned earlier about cervicogenic headaches, many such headaches are actually nothing more than referred pain from overstressed neck muscles. These types of headaches are usually experienced in the temple region, over the top of the head, as a band above the eyes, and often creep "behind the eyes".
In this article, I'm going to give four never-fail tips on how to prevent cervicogenic headaches before (or just after) they start.
1) Sleep. It sounds simple, and almost like a cop-out, but nothing can beat eight straight hours of lying in a comfortable bed on a comfortable pillow. Since your head is quite heavy (all those brains!), your neck vertebrae and neck muscles have a lot of work to do during the day. Giving them a rest will almost always help calm down hypertensive muscles and recharge fatigued muscles.
2) Posture Break. If you're stuck for long periods of time at the computer, driving a car, or looking down at a kitchen counter, you need to periodically change your head position about every 12-15 minutes. This will allow other muscles to activate, preventing your head from becoming a burden on specific muscles. Also, the ligaments which support your neck muscles will stretch nicely for about 12 minutes at a time, but beyond that time frame they begin to reshape themselves according to your new position. So if you're looking down for a long time, the ligaments at the back of your neck stretch out too much, forcing the neck muscles in front to work too much in order to hold your head steady.
3) Neck Roll. This is a slow stretch, involving good breathing technique. Begin by depressing your shoulder blades (clasping your hands behind your back and "driving" your knuckles to the floor is a good way to accomplish this). Then let your head relax to the right side and inhale. You'll feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Maintain that posture for a few seconds, then exhale and allow your head to droop forward and roll over to the left side, causing a right side stretch. Do this back-and-forth a couple times. Then let your head go forward, and then back, then forward, then back, as far as you can go. Great! (Bonus: by pulling your shoulders back, you've also stretched out your chest muscles, which tend to get overworked by the same motions which stress the neck muscles.)
4) Come in to your friendly local Peoria doctor for an Activator muscle treatment. Not only do I adjust spinal vertebrae with the Activator, the instrument is uniquely suited for relaxing muscles. The Activator's adjustive thrust is faster than the muscle can react, so the thrust tends to "stretch" the muscle (in much the same way that a stretched rubber band becomes "longer" when pressed in the middle). This sudden stretch initiates a normal relaxation reflex arc from the muscle to your spinal cord and back again, and often melts away the trigger points in the muscle. The key to the Activator's success in treating tight muscles is speed and placement of the instrument.
Another favorite method to relax the neck is fantastic. It's free. It's easy. You can do it at home. It's called The Towel Roll. And it deserves its own article. Stay tuned!
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
All images used are under Creative Commons license.
Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, S.C., proudly located in Peoria, IL.