Combine stress, repetitive activities and poor posture, and what do you get? Tension headaches.
Dr. Dukes revealed the most common contributors: poor posture, constantly looking down at your cell phone, working on your laptop in your home office all day, driving for hours without rest, playing video games for hours, chronic jaw clenching, and poor sleep posture.
Dr. Dukes explained that, “these activities overstretch the muscles on the back of your neck and weaken them, increasing your susceptibility to tension headaches. The second part of the problem is that using any muscle too much leads to pain and, often, results in tension headaches.” Episodic tension headaches come on quickly and are fairly painful. “They are usually associated with stressful events adn tend to be subside once the stressful event is over.” Chronic tension headaches can recur daily. They may come on as you wake up or after a long day of work or activity. “The muscles in your neck and scalp tend to stay contracted,” she says. “Pain and tightness develop on both sides of the head, in the forehead and at the base of the skull.”
Dr. Dukes recommends minimizing tension headache contributing factors by:
Minimizing stress: Try to avoid or limit stressful events.
Taking breaks: Limit the time you spend looking down at your phone. Take breaks on long drives.
Adjusting the way you sleep: Try sleeping on your back or on your side with a body pillow and your neck in neutral posture.
Exercise and stretch: Use a therapy cane or a hard therapy ball to massage out or stretch your neck and shoulder muscles.
Avoid clenching: If you have trouble avoiding this behavior, seek a dentist knowledgeable about temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
What about rubbing your temples when a tension headaches starts to build — does it help? “Muscle tension varies, so rubbing on your temples may not bring relief,” says Dr. Bang. “But rubbing on the tender spots, or trigger points, in your neck and shoulder muscles can help.”
If tension headaches don’t go away after trying these suggestions, it may be time to seek professional help from Dr. Dukes and her experienced team of professionals. Call today (814) 752-2524. Reach out to Dr. Dukes. Schedule your consultation and learn how Chiropractic can help you.
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