Do you suffer from headaches on a regular basis? If so, you’re not alone. Over 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches. But, before you reach for that aspirin check out these 6 surprising ways to reduce headaches:
Exercise and Stretch – Engaging in moderate aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week can help reduce the frequency and severity of tension and migraine headaches. Exercise releases endorphins, hormones that help with pain management and improve mood. Stretching loosens muscles in the back and neck that can contribute to tension headaches. Stretches for the upper back, neck and shoulders should be done 1-2x daily for 10-20 minutes. Because exercise can trigger migraines in some people it is best to start out slowly when beginning an exercise regime to gage how you will respond and note any types of exercise that serve to trigger a headache.
Watch What You Eat and Drink – Diet can play a big part in triggering a headache, especially a migraine. Foods containing nitrates (think hot dogs, bacon, ham) or sulfites (watch out for wine and chocolate) are major culprits in triggering headaches as are many common allergen foods like dairy, wheat and nuts. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, food additives like MSG, caffeine and refined sugar are also known to trigger headaches. Dehydration is another common cause for headaches so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Improve Your Posture – Most of us spend our time looking at a screen of some kind whether it be a computer, tablet or telephone. The result is we slouch over with our shoulders rounded and head stretched forward. This can lead to strain on the muscles of the back and neck which can cause a tension headache and possibly even affect blood flow in such a way as to cause a migraine. Good posture involves maintaining all of the natural curves of the spine while keeping the shoulders pulled down and away from the ears, the chest lifted and the head centered on the body. By practicing good posture you can considerably reduce the number of headaches you experience.
Say “Thank You” – Scientific studies show that expressing gratitude on a regular basis provides several physiological benefits including the reduction of headaches and other forms of pain. Expressing gratitude either by keeping a gratitude journal or by expressing your appreciation to friends and coworkers reduces stress and increases endorphins (natural happy drugs) both of which can help decrease headache frequency.
Get a Massage – Massages help reduce tension, increase circulation and reduce pain all of which can be beneficial to a headache sufferer. Different modalities of massage work better for different types of headaches as well as for different clients so talk to your massage therapist about the details of your headaches. If massages aren’t your thing, acupuncture is another great way to manage headaches.
Sex – Yes, sex! Again, endorphins may be the major contributor here but research does show that for some migraine and cluster headache sufferers sex can help reduce the severity of the pain or even get rid of the headache all together.
Now, these tips may not get rid of all of your headaches but they might give you a few ideas of how to manage them a bit better. Remember, headaches are not normal. If you are suffering from frequent headaches that seem to have no obvious cause or trigger it is a good idea to talk to a medical professional.
Have a Happy Healthy Day!!!!