Exercises for headaches caused by neck pain

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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04 April 2014

Neck pain can affect anyone

At a recent public speaking course I attended, I was amazed to hear that some of my far younger colleagues also suffered from neck pain. As a self-centred man, I sat there quietly satisfied that the cause was not my 43 years but a postural issue of some kind. What I should have been thinking, of course, was ‘I symphasise with you and I hope you’re ok in the future but no, I was secretly thinking how similar to a 25 year old I clearly am.

What causes neck pain?

Neck pain is often a result of weakened muscles between the shoulder blades and over-used muscles in the back of the neck, often resulting from driving on long journeys in the car, cutting a tall, long hedge in the garden or after spending a long day painting the ceiling.

If you suffer from neck pain regularly, you may also experience neck headaches or pins and needles in the arms or hands. Neck headaches result from the muscles pulling on the base of the skull where you may feel some tenderness if you prod the area. The pain can extend over the skull and even be felt in the eye sockets.

Simple exercises to ease headaches

Here are some exercises that we promise will take just 5 minutes to perform and which should help strengthen the deconditioned and strained muscles of the neck:

–  Standing, drop your head to one side while continuing to look ahead. Hold for 10 seconds then swap sides. Repeat twice more each side. To increase the stretch, drop the opposite shoulder.

–  Standing again, lower your chin to your chest, hold for 10 and then look up to the ceiling and hold for 10. Repeat twice more. A more advanced version of this would be to lie on your front on the end of the bed with just your head over the end. Slowly nod your head up and down to strengthen those same neck muscles further.

–  Next, standing straight again, look over your right shoulder and hold firm for 10 seconds, then over your left shoulder for 10. Repeat this 3 times. You’ll notice more of a pulling or pinching sensation on one side than on the other, indicating that you’ve targeted the muscle knot responsible.

–  Finally, while sitting upright, jut your head forward and hold for 10, then all the way back and hold for 10. Repeat another 5 times and that’s your 5 minutes done.

Performed every other day, these exercises stretch and strengthen the various neck muscles over 2-4 weeks. If you need extra help, try taking 200mg magnesium twice a day with food and apply some Atrogel (Arnica) before bed and upon rising.

Don’t perform any of these exercises if they cause you pain but by all means hold any position where you can feel a muscle being stretched gently. These exercises can and should be done without aggressive or vigorous movements.

I can say from personal experience that by performing these exercises fairly gently, I have managed to get rid of 90% of my neck pain.

If anyone has a magic solution or favourite exercise, please share it via the comments button.

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Did you know?

Your head exerts up to 12lbs on the spine and when you lower your head (to read a text or check your facebook) this can increase to as much as 60lbs - the same weight as 5 bowling balls!

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