Tension Headaches

Written by Jakob van Vlijmen (chiropractor)

Many say that a tension headache feels like a tight band around their forehead. Other symptoms include tender shoulders and neck muscles, a sensitive scalp and a tendency to worsen as the day continues. These types of headaches can last from 30 minutes to several days.

In some people, tension headaches are caused by tight muscles in the back of the neck and scalp which can result from bad posture, sitting too long or emotional stress. In others, tightened muscles are not part of tension headaches and the cause is unknown. However, tension headaches are generally triggered by some type of environmental or internal stress.

While regular chiropractic adjustments can go a long way towards preventing tension headaches, you may find yourself coping with one every now and again even with regular care. If you still have occasional tension headaches after visiting with your chiropractic team, the following tips may help:

• Look for triggers. Headaches can be caused by certain foods, sounds or lights. They can also show up after a vigorous workout or changes to your blood sugar.

• Try to avoid sitting in the same position for extended periods of time. This can lead to pressure on your spine and muscles, which may result in a tension headache. If you have a sedentary job take frequent stretch breaks to allow your muscles to relax.

• Avoid clenching your teeth. If you find that you’re frequently grinding or clenching, you may want to talk to your chiropractor or dentist.

• Given that tension headaches often go hand in hand with anxiety and stress, some sufferers find calming activities such as yoga, meditation or spending time in nature can help by reducing stress levels.