Your Tension Headache: 5 Tips for Relieving it Now Without Medication
Ever find yourself cranking out spreadsheets like it’s your job (oh wait, it is), sweating out your stress on the treadmill, checking in on your besties like a friendship guru — when suddenly, a dull throbbing in your forehead brings your day to a screeching halt? 96% of Americans will experience a tension headache at some point in their lives (and women have the privilege of being more prone to getting them than men are).
According to the World Health Organization1, most of us will cope with at least one headache every year — and the average tension headache lasts four to six hours! (Who’s got the time for that?)
Steps you can Take Anywhere to Relieve or Prevent a Tension Headache
These simple but time-tested tips can help you stave off (and combat) that day-disrupting pain of a tension headache.
Do you remember your last helping of H2O? We all do it — get so wrapped up in the daily grind that we forget to hydrate (a very common cause of tension headaches). And if you sipped one too many wassails at last night’s holiday bash or forgot your trusty water bottle on the kitchen table, dehydration may soon come stalking. Simply sipping water at regular intervals throughout the day can stave off those ugly headaches (and cramping in your neck and shoulder muscles that may send pain to your head).
Ever caught your shoulders creeping up as you hunch ever lower over your keyboard? Yep, that 9-5 (on paper) muscle tension can refer pain up to your head, triggering — you guessed it — that nagging tension headache. Nurture those type-A shoulders by applying a hot compress, then share the love with your head and neck. The cozy warmth may even help you drift into a short power nap that can fuel the rest of your workday (and make you productive enough to actually get your work done by 5:00).
We won’t twist your arm (as we reach for the chocolate-covered macadamias) but eating a snack between meals may help prevent or alleviate a headache. That’s because low blood sugar, (glucose in your blood) means low energy — which can trigger a headache. So, make sure you’re stocked up on fruits, nuts, humus, guac, or any of your favorite healthy snacks (good fat and protein for the win).
Pause and Stretch
Remember that muscle tension we talked about? Stress is a major contributor to both muscle tension and headaches, and sometimes the best medicine is taking a step back. Try scheduling short breaks into your day to take a walk, look out the window, listen to music, pet your dog, or grab a cup of coffee (as long as caffeine isn’t a headache trigger for you).
Don’t just take a break to stretch when a headache is already starting to creep in — do simple stretches throughout the day (yes, at your desk — you may even start a wellness trend) to prevent it. Try paying more attention to your posture, which can cause regular tension headaches.
Don’t worry, nobody will look at you funny (in fact, some workplaces already encourage this time-tested stress and tension release technique on a regular basis). With your thumb and pointer finger, apply steady pressure between your eyebrows and above the bridge of your nose. Be patient — it may take several minutes for your pain to relent. Stimulating this pressure point can help relieve pain caused by indigestion and eyestrain.
Then, move on to our temples, and both sides of your forehead, rubbing your fingers in small circular motions while breathing slowly and deeply — in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Tried all the tips above, but that headache’s still pounding away? It may be a referred pain that is originating in your neck and shoulders – anything from muscle tension to pressure on a nerve. If that’s the case, it’s time to call in the pros. Don’t try to crack your own neck.
Check in with your nearest Chiro One doc at one of our welcoming open-plan clinics across the country. They’ll explore the root cause of your pain with a thorough exam, then personalize a care plan — a combination of gentle chiropractic adjustments and active therapies. Find a Chiro One doctor near you.