Penrose Physical Therapy
Jan 2019
Jennifer Penrose
Jennifer Penrose

Let’s talk about headaches and migraines. Ranging from a mid-afternoon head pounding ache, to an agonizing pain that leaves you sensitive to light. Headaches are something most, if not all of us, have experienced at some point in our life. For some, headaches are a bigger problem and can even affect everyday life, just like Lauren who is a patient of mine – here’s what she wrote in an email to me before she came to see us:

“Hi Jennifer, I’m 56 and have been suffering from migraines ever since I was a teenager and I’ve never been able to get to the root of the problem. Usually in the past I put my migraines down to stress or a lack of sleep. Then I thought it might be something that I’m eating instead. I took away all of the foods that are said to set off headaches like cheese and chocolate…but nothing really changed. I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that tension in your shoulders can bring headaches on? Then I thought you’d be the best person to ask. Is this right or am I being silly? Do I get headaches because of something I eat? I’m tired of getting migraines when I least expect them! It’s awful when they strike in the middle of shopping.” – Lauren, 56,Olympia, WA

Let me tell you now, Lauren certainly was right about tension in your neck and shoulders being related to this common problem! I can imagine you would have found it hard to believe if I told you that 87% of headaches come from tight muscles in your shoulders and neck. You’re not alone and most people don’t realize that it’s often got nothing to do with the foods we eat. But instead the culprit is often tension that you never even knew existed in your neck in the first place. Mainly because you’re just so used to it, or brush it to the side thinking it’s just part of getting older.

If I asked you do you ever find yourself resting your head awkward awkwardly whilst you’re watching TV? If you ever lean your head forward when you read? Or even stick your neck forward when using your phone or computer, I can bet you answer ‘yes’. All of those things can cause muscles in your neck to become tired, which means one thing – lots of tension!

Now I know that if your job requires working on a computer you’re not going to be able to suddenly stop looking at one, and I’m not going to tell you to stop reading, or to never watch TV again, but what I am going to tell you is the three things you can start to do today, to help ease neck tension that leads to all sorts of headaches…

Which is exactly what was going on with my patient Lauren. For years Lauren was working an office job where she spent hours each day leaning her neck forward looking at a computer screen – no wonder why when we helped ease her neck tension, her migraines became less and less of a regular occurrence! So What Can Be Done?

1. Be aware of the position of your neck – if you notice that your neck is pushed forwards, tuck your chin in towards your neck to help straighten it and put it back into the right position.

2. Relax in a warm bath – muscles love to be warm and warm muscles means less tension. So run yourself a nice warm bath, lay back and relax.

3. Talk to our team about the special package we have designed especially for migraine and headache sufferers. It’s something called the Organic Treatment Program that my physical therapists put together with the perfect combination of massage and gentle posture and neck stabilization exercises. We are also using CBD oil and lotion (without the affects of THC) to help patients with pain management. And the best part? Not only does it help ease headaches, it’s also 100% natural, meaning our patients no longer have to reach into the cupboard or their bags for painkillers. If headaches are stopping you in your tracks, call us at (360) 456-1444.

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