Headaches and How to Fix Them – Part 1
Dr. Tom Cotter, DC
Headaches! They’re such a pain in the…well, the head! This month we are going to be talking about various causes of headaches and simple exercises to help alleviate your headaches. Each week we will zero in on a different cause that we see in the clinic. Therefore, helping you understand each condition more and to hopefully need our services less frequently!
To start off with we’ll look at the suboccipitals. Yep, it’s a mouth full. The suboccipitals are small muscles above the hairline on your neck and below the bottom of your skull. Often these muscles become irritated or strained therefore causing referred headaches. The most common reason these muscles become strained is your head is sitting too far in front of your body. We all do it, some more than others. Things like working at the computer, looking at your cell phone, driving, or straining to read things because you are avoiding buying new glasses will draw your head forward.
The head weighs approximately 8lbs; the weight of a bowling ball. Ideally, it should sit above your body like a golf ball on a golf tee or holding that bowling ball in your hand as you start your approach. When it sits there, it is nice and balanced, and doesn’t strain the muscular system. Unfortunately, with so many things drawing our heads forward the balance gets messed up.
Now imagine holding that bowling ball straight out in front of you with your elbow straight. Within a very brief period it feels like it weighs 40+ lbs. The same thing happens when our head is in front of our shoulders for too long. The body suddenly has to struggle to hold the head up. One of the first groups of muscles assigned this job is the suboccipitals. They don’t like working that hard though. For that reason, quickly they become irritated and strained.
Ok, so what’s the fix Doc? It’s a very simple exercise. Look straight in front of yourself, your head on a level plane. Now retracted your head straight backwards, not letting your head tilt down or up. Imagine pulling your head back like you’re avoiding a pie in the face or a punch being thrown straight at your nose. Once you retract your head as far as you can, nod your head down; it shouldn’t move but a couple of millimeters. At that point you should feel a stretch above your neck hairline. Now hold for a couple of seconds and relax. Do this 15 times every couple of hours.
As always, if this doesn’t fully resolve your headache or you know someone that might benefit from our services, be sure to schedule from our website www.activehealthKC.com or call 913-341-1200.