Wellness Wednesday - Those Headache Woes

Springtime is here, people are increasing their workouts, kids are stressed with finals and school coming to an end, wedding season is in full throttle. All this stress creates a lot of tension throughout the body and can often lead to the classic tension headache.

Headaches are so common that according to the International Headache Society there are over 200 different kinds of headaches. However, to simplify things, these can be classified into three broad types: primary, secondary, and cranial neuralgia/primary facial pain/other.

There are many things that cause headaches, I for one have been getting one or two headaches a week that last the majority of the day. I know I have been working out more, so I could be dehydrated, not getting enough nutrients, or not getting enough rest. All these factors can contribute and lead up to a headache.

It would be easy to take some ibuprofen, but I know I don’t want to keep taking medicine to feel better. Another alternative is to do something relaxing to help alleviate the symptoms I am experiencing by releasing the tight muscles in my body.

The reason this helps is best shown according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke where they describe a tension headache as follows:1“…previously called muscle contraction headache, [it] is the most common type of headache. Its name indicates the role of stress and mental or emotional conflict in triggering the pain and contracting muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw. Tension-type headaches may also be caused by jaw clenching, intense work, missed meals, depression, anxiety, or too little sleep”

With this being said, I would recommend starting a journal and writing down the onset of your headaches, and what the possible triggers could be. If symptoms do not decrease I would contact your primary care physician.  If you feel that its stress related then a massage would definitely help.  Make sure you communicate with the therapist on how frequently you have been getting the headaches so they can do a thorough evaluation of the possible associated muscles to work on during the treatment to release.

I ended up increasing my water intake, adding in a extra few hours of sleep a night with getting a soft tissue massage to help release some of the tension along my shoulder blades and neck and it helped decrease the amount of headaches I experienced.