Suffering From Stress Headaches? Physical Therapy Could Change Your Life.
You might have had a stress-related headache before, as they’re pretty common! These headaches can cause vise-like feelings that can be downright unbearable along your brow.
Most people handle headaches with OTC pain relievers, however, overdoing it on medications can lead to rebound headaches and even more severe complications, especially if you suffer from regular bouts of these tension headaches.
To decrease the frequency and severity of your tension headaches, try physical therapy instead. From damaged muscles to bad posture, a physical therapist may help you fix the underlying conditions that might be causing them.
To learn more about how stress-related headaches can be helped by our dedicated team, contact Fit Rehab Physical Therapy today. In the meantime, make sure you read on to learn more about recognizing stress headaches.
Recognizing stress headaches
From migraine and sinus head pain to the notorious cluster headaches, there are tons of different headaches. Each type can be crippling.
For example, a cluster headache comes with potential watering and swelling of the eyes and typically includes extreme pain around one eye and the surrounding area. Sinus headaches concentrate on the sinus cavities around both eyes, cheeks, and nose, and involve extreme pressure, especially when leaning over. A migraine headache brings along potential vision blurriness and nausea and includes throbbing along one side of the brain.
A tension headache, in contrast, will make itself known with a band of pain across your forehead, often continuing around the sides of your head and/or to the back of your skull near the base of your neck. This pain and pressure might also come with a feeling of heightened sensitivity on your shoulders, scalp, and neck.
People with tension headaches might get them only periodically, or experience them more frequently. If you get them often, you likely suffer from chronic tension headaches.
Technically, a chronic tension headache condition occurs when you have a tension headache more than 15 days in a month, with each headache lasting at least an hour. But even “episodic” (non-chronic) tension headaches can affect your quality of life if you get them several times each month.
How can resistance training help stress headaches?
Stress headaches may be linked to having weaker than normal neck muscles or to having a greater vulnerability to the form of pain that can be alleviated with strength training.
Studies show that, on average, individuals with this particular form of stress headache have less strength than the average individual in their neck extension muscles. In research conducted on stress headache patients, they also proved to have a decreased extension-flexion muscle movement ratio.
In these areas, physical therapy can help to build up strength in the spine, shoulder, and upper back muscles. The aim is to properly strengthen these muscles to support your head without being overworked, which sometimes leads to stress headaches.
The exercises themselves are not hard for most people to complete. Depending on your area of weakness, the physical therapist might start you on chin-to-chest “nodding” workouts, which strengthens your neck muscles. For upper back and shoulder strengthening, physical therapy might involve using hand weights and resistance bands.
Sit up straight!
The act of slouching comes from a vicious cycle of not wanting to use the correct muscles for standing straight, which in turn weakens those muscles and makes it harder to sit or stand properly.
When you slump, your shoulders, neck, and back tend to compress the nerves within them. This can happen when your sitting, standing, or walking.
Physical therapy for stress-related headaches will likely include an assessment of your normal posture.
Your physical therapist may determine that weakened muscles from the way you sit or stand are compressing your nerves and contributing to muscle strain. If so, strengthening moves for your core, back and neck will be incorporated.
You’ll also learn techniques to help your body “remember” how to hold the correct positions for sitting, standing, and walking.
How can massage therapy help relieve stress headaches?
A regular massage can reduce the frequency and severity of tension-related headaches. Massage is renowned for its ability to relax patients. For people with chronic stress headaches, physical therapy involving massage may ease a headache if you have one going into the session.
Muscle tension is eased during physical therapy massage, which takes the strain off your upper body. Besides, any compressed nerves that may be contributing to chronic headaches can also be addressed by an experienced physical therapist.
Along with deep-tissue massage, your physical therapist may also alternate between heat and cold therapy, using simple tools like heating pads and ice packs. They may also employ technology like ultrasonic wands. This type of alternating hot and cold treatment reduces inflammation and knotted muscle problems.
Stiffened joints and tendons can contribute to both emotional and physical stress, with only one potential outcome being a tension headache.
Boosting overall flexibility can not only help avoid severe injury but also reduce the risk of physical stress-related headaches.
Physical therapy will help improve flexibility in your upper body regions, The more you can freely shift those muscle groups, the less stress you’ll bring on them.
Stretching moves will focus on opening up your chest, gaining more flexibility in your neck tendons, and extending the range of motion in your shoulders and arms. Through physical therapy, you can learn how to do these moves safely during your sessions — without pushing your limits.
Your physical therapist will give you specific instructions for how to do these helpful stretches independently as well, so that you can retain and improve your flexibility both between sessions.
Ready to give physical therapy a try?
A physical therapist may very well be the key to helping you beat those tension headache problems.
If you’re ready to find long-lasting relief from stress headaches, help is on the way! Through a variety of physical therapy methods performed in our facility, as well as teaching you home techniques, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your stress-related headaches.