How to get rid of tension headaches with a little help from your friendly Warragul Physio team
A headache, or pain and soreness in your head and jaw (also known as TMJ pain) can slow you down and stop you enjoying life.
Luckily your friendly team at Progressive Physiotherapy Group are here to explain why you might be experiencing tension headaches, and share some easy fixes to clear your head and wash away the tension.
Sit back, pop the large font on, and relax.
Let’s face it, 2020 has turned into one helluva year. As if life hasn’t got enough ups and downs, we’ve had to deal with that pesky Pandemic and all its associated side effects such as lockdown, schools closing and working from home.
One of the biggest knock-on effects we’ve seen in our patients is an increase in stress. And we totally get it. Truth is, we’re feeling it too. The problem with stress is that it brings a whole raft of other issues – like tight muscles, and tension or stress headaches that just don’t seem to go away. If you’re suffering from ongoing head and jaw pain then fear not, we have a few solutions to get you free from pain and loving life again.
What on earth is a TMJ?
Agh! Another acronym. Who needs that hey? Especially if you already have a headache. Let’s clear up these technical terms quickly and move on. TMJ stands for ‘Temporomandibular Joint’, it’s the sliding joint that connects your skull to your jaw (the joint that you clench when you’re feeling mad).
If you’ve been busy Googling, you might have also stumbled across the acronym ‘TMD’. Don’t worry, they’re connected! TMD just means ‘Temporomandibular Disorder’, which means any problems connected to tension around your jaw joint.
Some symptoms of TMJ headaches, or TMD, are:
- a pain around your jaw, ear and temple
- a headache around your temples
- pressure around your forehead and the back/sides of your head
If you’re having these symptoms you could be suffering from headaches caused by tense muscles around your head and neck.
Why you might be getting tension headaches
I don’t think we’re breaking new ground by telling you most headaches are caused by stress or tension. Sounds simple, but it doesn’t feel simple when you’re suffering from them.
While there is a never-ending list of reasons why you could be getting a headache, the most common is your muscles being held so tight they’re ready to pop.
Life is hard enough, but this year has certainly added to our stress load and it’s good to be aware of its effect on you and your body.
Here are some of the most common ‘2020’ reasons why tension headaches have been an even bigger pain the butt (or head) recently:
- The stress! Seriously, how have we all kept up? Our routines have changed, there’s been job uncertainty and the kids have been around 24/7 (not to mention your partner who seems to make the house 100% messier). All the stress builds and builds until your neck and head muscles are screaming for relief.
- Your lovely, but heavy head. Bear in mind that when your neck bends forward beyond its neutral position you’re adding an extra 10lbs of weight to your poor ole neck. Now think about how much time you’ve spent at a makeshift desk trying to get work done or bent over your kid’s schoolbooks.Eep!
- Putting your head in your hands. This is a really common position that you often don’t realise you’re using during the day. Take a while to consider how much time you spend with your head in your hands, whether it’s on a Zoom call, homeschooling or online learning. That poor neck is getting a hammering right now!
How to fix your tension headaches
At ease troops! The PPG team are here to help you unwind, re-adjust and give you your head back. We have a treasure chest of tricks to help ease your tension headaches and have you ready to take on the world again (OK, you can wait until 2021 if you prefer).
Here are some of the ways to ease your stress headaches:
That word is music to our ears. Exercises don’t have to be strenuous or a bore. You can pop a tune on and just have a gentle stretch, or sit in a cool, dark room run through some simple exercises before bed. It all helps. We have a ton of great exercises to help release your neck muscles, relieve your head tension and have you feeling lighter than air. Just get in touch to find out more or look into one of our exercise classes.
When you’re stuck into work, or at home with the kids all day it’s easy to start hunching over which result in a sore neck and the onset of headaches. You’ll be amazed at the difference a few postural adjustments can make. Having your head too far forward is the most common cause of headaches, so try to keep your chin tucked in a little so your head is in a neutral position and not adding pressure to your neck (don’t worry about the double chin, no one’s looking). If you’re working from home consider the height of your desk, there are loads of great tips online to get your workstation at the perfect height.
Remember to move it, move it
So simple yet somehow, it’s the one thing we forget to do. Just because you’re not at work doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a lunch break. You still need to stand up and move those joints to keep everything moving smoothly, so set aside regular slots to stand up, walk around and get some fresh air. Try using the Pomodoro technique to schedule out your day and give yourself a little break, or download one of the many meditation apps such as the Mindfulness App or Headspace, to take yourself away from the stresses of the day. Sometimes all you need is some fresh air and a walk surrounded by nature to help you relax and unwind.
Connect with your friends and family
Ever noticed how great you feel after you’ve downloaded with a friend or family member? Just talking to another human can lighten the load and make the day seem so much more bearable. Try Skype, Facetime or Zoom for face-to-face chatting or just send a message and let someone know you could do with a little chat. It’s good to talk.
OK, we’re not really magic but we do offer hands-on treatment and gentle mobilisations to reduce your muscle tension and headaches.We offer some great tips on how to keep the tension at bay. We’re also a really lovely team (can we say that about ourselves? Yeah, we think so) who love a little natter. So when you come to see us you get the added bonus of a friendly chat while you’re having your muscles eased. We’ll send you away with some great tips to keep you feeling loose and relaxed at home. It’s easy to book in too.
Understanding your body
Knowing your triggers and understanding when your head and neck are starting to get tense is the key to managing the pain. Stop every now and then to assess how your body is feeling. Are you holding onto tension? Are your shoulders up around your ears? Will a cup of green tea help?In these strange times it’s really important to give yourself a little love and check in on your body…before it checks out on you!
Time to clear your head
Don’t suffer in silence with head pain, TMJ pain or headaches. They’re not ‘just one of those things’ and there are some really simple things you can try to keep them at bay. We even work with our friends and colleagues at Warragul Dental Care who diagnose and treat the symptoms of TMJ head pain and headaches by fitting mouthguards to save your teeth, or injections to loosen your muscles. We work as one big Warragul team!
Don’t let 2020 get the better of you, get out of pain so you can take on all the challenges of the year with a calm, clear head.