There are many different medications, surgeries and interventions to treat headaches, but a new study reveals an effective way to treat primary headaches might be at your fingertips – neck stretching. By performing simple neck stretching exercises that stubborn and painful headache might just disappear.
The study, published in Workplace Health and Safety, examined the effects of a neck stretching exercise intervention on nurses’ primary headaches. It used a pretest and posttest two-group design with a total of 60 female staff nurses employed by a medical center in Taiwan.
Participants in the experimental group (a total of 30 patients) practiced neck stretching exercises while experiencing headaches. The participants in the control group (the other 30 patients) managed their headaches as they would usually do.
According to Dr. Elliot Shevel, Medical Director of The Headache Clinic, and South Africa’s internationally recognized Migraine expert and pioneer in the field of Migraine Surgery, a structured questionnaire was used to collect data on headache intensity at baseline, and at 30 minutes and 1 hour after intervention.
“Decrease in headache intensity of the experimental group was significantly larger than that of the control group,” says Shevel. “The conclusion was that neck stretching exercises is an effective method for treating primary headaches.”
What exercises can you do?
By simply doing some physiotherapy exercises at the office or in the comfort of your own home, you can treat your own headaches, says Shevel. The Headache Clinic’s in-house Physiotherapist Urvashi Chiba has put together a short demonstration video with practical advice and exercise demonstration. Please click here.
Things to remember when doing neck stretching:
- Do the neck stretches two to three times per day.
- Stretches are more effective and comfortable when the muscle is warm. Ideally it can be done in the shower, after a bath or after heating the muscles with a heat pack.
- Do not pull too hard; a gentle pulling sensation should be felt.
- The stretch should be gentle and should not cause you pain
- Take regular breaks from the computer or seated position.
- Maintain correct seated position in front of your computer or desk. Correct computer posture
- Maintain correct seated position whilst driving. Correct driving posture
- Avoid awkward positions, especially for extended periods of time.
Common awkward positions
- Slouching in a chair
- Sticking your bottom out
- Standing with a flat back
- Leaning on one leg
- Hunched back and ‘text neck’ (from hunching over while texting)
- Poking your chin by sitting too low in front of your screen
- Rounded shoulders
- Cradling your phone between head and shoulder