Third-generation Chiropractor Gregory Soltanoff sees hundreds of patients a year who name headaches as their chief complaints. While many do not suffer from migraines, per se, the nagging headaches are still distracting. “The head is extremely heavy,” says Soltanoff, DC. “When not supported correctly, the joints, tendons, and muscles of your neck and back become irritated. Pressure on select nerves may even interfere with vision and cause nausea, symptoms often associated with migraine.”
Because headaches can be prompted by grueling hours spent behind computer screens, keeping our bodies in awkward positions and mangling our posture, Soltanoff, suggests frequently checking your spine alignment and taking breaks.
Soltanoff also recommends these simple, do-anywhere stretches to patients to help prevent headaches. Begin, he says, by sitting at the edge of a chair, or standing with your chest up, legs slightly apart, and feet flat.
Stretch One: Breuggers
First, turn your toes out slightly. Tilt your pelvis forward to increase the curve in your lower back. Bring your arms down by your sides, then lift them outward about thirty degrees. Rotate your palms until they face the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and slide them down toward the spine. Bring your chin inward, as if making a double chin. Return to neutral. Repeat four times until you complete five reps total.
Stretch Two: Chin-to-Chest
Tuck in your chin gently. Lower your head slowly, keeping your mouth closed. Return to neutral. Repeat four times until you complete five reps total.
Stretch Three: Neck Side Bends
Slowly lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Stop where your body naturally does; do not push beyond your stopping point. Point your nose forward. Do not lift your shoulder toward your ear. Return head to neutral. Now lower your left ear to your left shoulder, without lifting the shoulder to meet the ear. Point your nose forward. Return head to neutral. Repeat four times until you complete five reps total.
Stretch Four: Neck Rotations
Gingerly turn your head to the right, bringing your chin toward your right shoulder. Do not push beyond your natural stopping point. Keep your eyes on the floor. Return your head to neutral. Gently turn your head to the left, bringing your chin toward your left shoulder. Stop at your natural end point. Return head to neutral. Repeat four times until you complete five reps total.