As someone who used to have headaches quite frequently I understand how debilitating they can be. They suck the fun out of any situation and can derail your whole day. Now I’m not talking about the small ones we all get from time to time (although these tips will help with those also!) but rather the ones that hit you like a train and don’t give up their grip on you. So for this blog I’m going to cover some things you can do to help take the edge off!
1) Soft Tissue Work
I’ve covered this is many videos before and I think its one of the best things you can do to alleviate a headache because most, but not all, headaches are usually related to tension somewhere in your body. Typically this is tension in your neck/traps and chest. The chest is usually one muscle people don’t associate with a headache but it is usually one of the biggest culprits because we are all anterior (front side of the body) dominate with what we do which creates a build up of tension in the muscles. Your muscles are woven together like fabric so a pull (tension) in one muscle creates a pull on other muscles. In this case if the chest is really tight it will pull on the traps and neck. My massage therapists always says to look for tension on the opposite muscle of the one that hurts because of this link and its something I always advocate to clients to work on. Here’s a video where I cover some soft tissue work you can do with a lacrosse ball to help alleviate some of this tension on your traps and neck:
Most people don’t drink enough water unfortunately. Your body is 70% water and when you become dehydrated it can cause an array of different problems. Now there is extreme dehydration, which I’ve had three times before and its quite scary, but being dehydrated doesn’t always have the symptoms being thirsty and the rule of thumb is that if you get to the point where you are extremely thirsty then you have probably been dehydrated for a while. When you are dehydrated one of the main things that will happen is your blood gets thicker and your blood pressure drops. Both of these can cause headaches and a build up of pressure in your head or in the case of your blood pressure dropping you might get extremely light headed.
Pop doesn’t count in hydrating and it actually dehydrates you. Alcohol is a diuretic which means its causes you to get rid of water via urination. You need water or something with electrolytes in it like Coconut Water. Coconut Water by the way has the same ratio of electrolytes in it as your blood so its a great natural way to get electrolytes without consuming with lots of refined sugar or dyes like Gatorade.
3) Epsom Salt Bath
Most people are deficient in their minerals and magnesium is one of the main ones people are deficient in especially women. Epsom salt is just magnesium and putting it in a hot bath allows your body to absorb it through your skin (dermal). So this has a two fold effect, first the warm water relaxes your muscles via the heat and the second is the magnesium absorbs through your skin which will help relax the muscles also. When you are deficient in magnesium your muscles get tight. One of the things people take for constipation is magnesium (milk of magnesium) because it relaxes your colon and allows everything to “flow” better.
4) Ice Pack
Having a ice pack handy can be a life saver especially when you have a headache. I personally do a specific placement pattern starting with the back of my head for 3-4 minutes then the top of my head and finally the front of my head/face. This helps to alleviate some of the inflammation in your head. If you happen to have a tension headache caused by tight traps then a heat pack on them can help relax the muscles so they can ease the compression on the nerves.
I typically do all of these in combination as a ritual but when I am limited to what I have around my I always go with soft tissue work first because I’ve identified it as the main cause for most of my headaches. This is where I want to encourage you to become more self aware and in tune with your body to help identify the root cause of your headaches. This will help you better understand if there is a pattern you engage in that is the main cause of your headaches. Stress can be a big one as your body becomes more tense, not staying hydrated, or lacking nutrients in your diet. These are just a couple examples but they are the most common ones I see with my clients. Try these out the next time you have a headache and I hope they help!
I know that might sound wrong but in some cases a little bit of caffeine can help alleviate your headache. Caffeine is a vasodilator which means is opens up your veins and capillaries so you have great blood flow. When you have a headache your blood vessels become constricted causing some of your discomfort. Having caffeine can help open those blood vessels back up and ease some of your pain.
I want to make sure you don’t take this if you have a migraine because it might make things worse and be careful with the amount of caffeine you take. Always remember to stay hydrated as mentioned earlier, especially if you are going to have caffeine.
I really consider this a last ditch effort before you consume medication.
So there you have it 5 strategies you can use to help ease your headache. I hope these help and if there are some remedies you use that I haven’t mentioned here please let me know what they are so I can try them out!