Natural Headache Remedies: Gentle Exercises for Pain Relief
Article by Nancy Hausauer
Many headaches are caused by muscle tension and stress. The good news is that you can often get relief from these kinds of headaches through gentle, relaxing exercises for the face, head, neck, and breath. Read on to learn these simple techniques for taming headaches and tension.
Exercises to Relieve Headaches
Headaches can be caused by tight muscles at the base of the skull, which compress both the blood vessels and the nerves. You can release the tightness by tucking your chin, interlacing your fingers behind your head, and gently pressing your head back into your hands (which provide resistance). Hold for about a count of eight and repeat several times.Often when we have a headache, it feels as if our scalp is too tight. Loosen your scalp by placing your palms at the top of your forehead with your fingers facing back. Slide the flesh of your scalp back and forth over your skull with your hands. Repeat ten or more times, moving your fingers to different places as desired. Habitually holding your head in a forward position (with your ears lined up in front of your shoulders, rather than directly over them) can contribute to chronic headaches. Many of us have this tendency. To counteract it, try this pleasant exercise: Sit upright and bring your shoulders comfortably down and back. Imagine that your head is a balloon, and slowly let it rise up and back, until your ears are directly over your shoulders and your head is level. Do this throughout the day, whenever you think about it, to help retrain yourself to hold your head in a neutral position.Try the facial part of a yoga pose called “The Lion” to help relieve overall facial tension, especially in the jaw. Take a deep breath through the nose. Then open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward your chin. At the same time, open your eyes wide and look slightly upward; contract the muscles on the front of your throat. Hold the expression while you exhale your breath slowly out through your mouth with a “ha” sound. Repeat several times. Gently tugging on your earlobes can help to relieve facial and jaw tension. To do it, grasp your earlobe, placing your index finger inside the rounded bottom portion of your outer ear and your thumb opposite, at the back of your ear. Gently pull your ear downward and outward, with a smooth motion, rather than a jerk. Hold for about a count of ten. This should feel good, so only pull as far as is comfortable.
Breathing Exercises for Headache ReliefBecause stress and tension often contribute to headaches, relaxation techniques can also help relieve the pain. Breath-work is one of the best overall relaxation techniques. Below is a breathing exercise that will allow you to turn off your stress response, relax, and reduce pain.
Breath in through your nose, out through your mouth.Breath deeply–all the way down into the lower third of your lungs. Your belly should expand when you breathe in and return to normal when you breathe out. Place your hands flat on your belly so you can check and make sure that it does that.Begin to breathe evenly, in a nice, smooth rhythm. Smoothing out your breathing helps you relax and feel grounded. You can count the duration of each breath to help you keep the rhythm even, if it helps.After you’ve gotten the rhythm of your breath nice and even, slow down the exhale in comparison to the inhale. Breathe in for a certain number of counts, say 6 (or whatever is comfortable for you), then breathe out for up to twice as many counts. Do this for at least a minute and up to five minutes. (If it makes you tense to count, then just estimate.)If at any time you start to feel dizzy or faint, return to normal breathing for a while.Caution: Because breathing exercises can make you feel light-headed, do not do them while driving or operating heavy machinery.
Two More Ridiculously Easy Headache RemediesBefore you move on to more involved remedies, you might also try the following:
Dehydration is a leading headache cause–so drink a glass of water.Abrupt caffeine withdrawal is another common cause of headache pain. Make sure you didn’t skip your morning cup of java.
Red Flag Headaches: See Your Doctor ImmediatelySome headache symptoms are signs of potentially serious, even life-threatening health problems. Please call your medical doctor immediately if:
you experience extremely intense head painthe headache comes on very suddenly and severelyyour headache is accompanied by mental confusionyour headache is accompanied by unusual symptoms, such as passing out, loss of vision, or difficulty walking or speakingyour headache is accompanied by a high fever and/or a stiff neckyour are over 50 and the headache is a new kind for youyour headache was preceded by head traumayou have a family history of brain aneurysms.
I hope you’re feeling better soon–naturally!
(c) 2009 — Nancy Hausauer.
About the Author
Nancy Hausauer has a holistic healing and wellness practice in Tacoma, Washington. For more ideas to support your wellness through energy healing and other natural techniques, visit her websites at http://www.the-energy-healing-site.com and http://www.Tacoma-Massage-Therapy.com