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All about Tension Headaches!

Most of us suffer from headaches (and for those that don’t, stop bragging!), but did you know that there are different types of headaches? Well, I am here to tell you all about them.


Type One: Tension Headaches

These are definitely the most common and we will be going into detail about them later on.


Type Two: Migraines

The pounding, throbbing pain that kicks our butts for a range of 4hrs to 3 days (No thank you!). These suckers usually cause sensitivity to light, noise, and smell. They can also affect your appetite, cause stomach upset and, if bad enough; vomiting (like you’re not suffering enough already). They can present in multiple different ways, but the most common sign of a migraine is an aura.


Type Three: Cluster Headaches

These are classified as more severe. These headaches usually feel like a burning sensation behind or around the eye, and you’ll find the pain to be throbbing and constant. The eye lid will droop, your eye may become red, pupils may contract, and you may get a little teary eyed. These headaches usually come and go throughout the day and can last anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. Shockingly enough, men are more likely to get cluster headaches than women!


Believe it or not, headaches are not just caused by screaming children (but they can definitely contribute LOL). Common causes are illness, stress, the environment and genetics (everyone say: “thank you, gene pool!”).


Stress is a HUGE role. Who doesn’t have some kind of stress in their life? It could be emotional stress, depression, increase in alcohol use, skipping meals, changes in your sleep, constantly picking up the same toys and clothes from your children - I digress...


Environments with strong smells or allergens can cause headaches as well.


Weather is also a common reason, i.e. temperature change or storms coming through.


Even lighting can trigger a headache. Like the poor lighting at work, or even the computer/phone screens!


Genetics! Even though family can stress you out, migraines are typically the only type of headache that will be passed down from your parents.


So, let's get back to Tension Headaches!


You know those pesky headaches that you notice in the back of your neck that can spread into your head? Or the band of pressure around the forehead that feels like you put on a tight headband for 5 hours straight? Those can be tension headaches! Typically, they affect both sides of the head and cause the neck, shoulders and the jaw to feel tight and achy.

There are many reasons why you could have a tension headache. Lets see what may be causing yours, shall we?


  • Not enough rest
  • Poor posture (thanks, desk job!)
  • Emotional/mental stress including depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger
  • Low iron
  • Too much of or withdrawal from caffeine and/or alcohol
  • Jaw/dental problems
  • Eye strain (usually from computer, phone or needing glasses)
  • Dehydration (so there was a reason they told us to drink more water! Huh...)
  • Skipping meals
  • Smoking

So, what can you do to help alleviate these headaches?


Limit your stress! Feeling overwhelmed? Make some “you” time! Have a bath, go for a walk, or practice some self care.

Take breaks! Especially if you work at a computer. Long periods of time spent in front of the computer can cause poor posture and eye strain. Take a moment to stretch, take a lap, or go for a couple of water breaks.


Exercising is important for your physical and mental health. Half hour exercising a day can help you not just with your headaches, but with your daily aches and pains. But make sure you’re stretching after your workouts! Focus on stretching your neck, shoulders and upper back. This can help with upper body tension that may be triggering those headaches.


Do your best to be conscious of drinking more water and getting more sleep!


Now! The best part: What Can We Do To Help?


Everyone has their own stress. When we are stressed, a lot of us tend to wear our shoulders as earrings (it’s a great look). We clench our jaw, stiffen up the body and we don’t even realize we are doing it. With all the tension that is created it can cause what are called trigger points that can also send pain into another area.


Trigger points can be treated with massage! Along with general stiffness and muscle tension, your RMT can focus on what we call “Trigger Point Release” therapy. This is a type of massage technique that helps encourage the flow of blood into areas where there are “knots”. The lack of blood flow can cause referral or “trigger point” headaches.


This, along with proper hydration, stretching and posture can help eliminate or decrease those pesky headaches!


Examples of common trigger point headaches can be:

  • Your Upper Fibers of Trapezius muscles, or, more commonly known as your “traps”. These muscles sit between your neck and shoulder and can refer pain up the back of the neck, into the head and to the temple like a question mark.
  • Another common trigger point headache comes from a group of muscles called our “Suboccipitals”. These muscles sit at the base of our skull and can refer pain across our forehead like a headband.

Now, can we eliminate your headache or at least diminish it?

Temporarily.


What will help get rid of them for good?

Taking care of yourself!