Headache pain: 5 Specific stretches

by Christina Abbott on May 19, 2009

These five stretches target the most important muscles that cause headache pain.

Forward flexion for the suboccipitals: Sitting up straight, bring your chin in toward your throat and try to tuck it in the notch between your collar bones. Clasp your hands behind your head and gently pull so that you feel a stretch at the base of your skull. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and bring your head upright. Repeat 10 times.

Rotation for the sternocleidomastoid and suboccipitals: Turn your head right to look over your shoulder. Place your hands on either side of your head and face with your right hand on your left cheek and your left hand on the right side of your head above your ear from a raised arm position. Keep turning your head as you assist with your hands. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and turn your head back facing front. Repeat 10 times. Repeat in the other direction.

Oblique forward flexion for the splenius muscles: Turn your head to the right and bring your left ear toward your chest. Pull your head gently with your left hand as you keep turning and stretching actively. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and return to upright. Repeat 10 times. Change sides and repeat to the left.

“Deodorant stretch” for the upper trapezius: To stretch the right side, turn your head to the left and bring your nose to your armpit as if you were checking your deodorant. With your left hand, pull your nose closer. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times. Repeat to the right.
Note: the shoulder must stay down to make this stretch effective. To do so, hold onto the bottom of a chair, or put your arm behind your back, or simply depress your shoulder as you stretch.

Jaw stretch: Stick your lower jaw out so the bottoom teeth protrude beyond your upper teeth. Lower your jaw, keeping it protruded till your mouth is wide open. Exhale and press down on your chin to stretch your jaw farther. Hold for two seconds, release and repeat 10 times.

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