by Nikki Jongedyk – Remedial Massage Therapist

When it comes to what is causing headaches, the multifaceted dimensions are endless. My focus on the cause as a Remedial Therapist is tension headaches.

The main causes of tension headaches are prolonged position holding (i.e. sitting all day at a computer) and stress; this affects our breathing (and the way we hold our body), which tightens the main muscles connecting our ribs to the base of our skull, resulting in referred pain, discomfort and vagal nerve interference.

An effective way to manage tension headaches is movement. Props, massage, aids and breathing/meditative exercises are also important to manage your stress levels and prevent your body from tensing up which results in a heightened nervous system.

Some tips below can assist you in managing your symptoms at home:

  • Basic mobility of the neck does more for us than static stretching (if done the wrong way or too long muscles can come in and brace, which is counterproductive). Basic movement – looking side to side, circling the head, looking up to the sky, etc. will keep the individual muscles engaging and get your blood moving.
  • Use shakti mats, massage balls, tens machine, deep heat rub – anything you can think of that feels good for you. If it feels good, do it – if it doesn’t, don’t.
  • Breathe. Long, slow breaths through your nose will help your blood carry and distribute oxygen throughout your body more effectively and manage stress levels.

Since headaches are a big part of the symptoms I treat; I promote detoning of the neck muscles which can assist a great deal. It not only relieves symptoms and opens up better vagal flow which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system; it opens your body to more efficient movement so you can better assist yourself and not have to suffer.