The work day is almost over, but your inbox is full and your to-do list is long. You are already thinking about the many things you’ll have to handle in the evening, and what will be facing you when you reach your desk again tomorrow. You pinch the bridge of your nose, but to no avail. The headache has already settled in, and is likely to distract you from the last few hours of your day.
Does this situation sound familiar? Stress-related headaches are no joke, and regularly turning to medication to help make the pain go away doesn’t take away from the issue that is causing the headaches in the first place: the stress! Identifying a stress-related headache as indeed being stress-related is the first step, but from there you need to take steps to address the cause of the pain, as well as the pain itself. Physical therapy can help you reduce the severity of stress-related headaches, as well as the frequency with which these types of headaches occur.
Stress related headaches develop due to a combination of hormonal surges and physical tension in the body, often the neck and shoulders. You may not realize the way in which you force your body to physically carry stress throughout the day, but a bit of time on a yoga mat in the evening would help you to stretch out some of those kinks and alleviate a bit of the tension that finds its way to your head after a long day. Sitting in an uncomfortable desk chair, being cooped up in the office all day long, a frustrating and overly-long commute in a cramped vehicle—or even more uncomfortable, on public transit!—all of these factors contribute to tension in the body, and all of that tension can manifest itself as debilitating, distracting, and downright painful stress-related headaches.
Physical therapy can help to reduce pain from stress-related headaches by:
- Reducing tension in the neck and back. Many physical therapists will start with a targeted stretching routine that will alleviate some of the tension that is most frequently held in the back, neck and even the shoulders. These stretches are often simply to repeat at home, and once a physical therapist has guided you through the best form of stretches you can be sure that the stretching you do on your own will be safe and effective.
- Alleviating tension in the jaw. This is another common area to hold tension, except that this isn’t something that can be stretched out at home. Your physical therapist can use targeted massage and other physical therapy techniques to reduce tension in the jaw, which can help to reduce headaches.
- Promoting muscle relaxation. Working with your physical therapist can provide you with the opportunity to understand muscle relaxation techniques, which can be helpful in the midst of a stressful situation. Learning how to relax muscles when your inclination is to constrict them means promoting airflow through the body and thereby promoting your ability to stay calm in the face of stress. This can further help support the reduction of tension headaches.
Many people think of physical therapy as a type of treatment to turn to following a car accident or injury, and while these are concerns that physical therapy can help with, this traditional treatment of pain relief if just the tip of the iceberg. Tension headaches are debilitating, and physical therapy can help you overcome that pain. Contact Healing Hands Physical Therapy at our Ann Arbor, MI office for more information about using physical therapy to reduce stress-related headaches.