Tension headaches are quite common in 83 percent of the population, according to a 2011 report of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Tension in the scalp and muscles of the neck can lead to these painful headaches. This may be either due to stress or holding of the head in just one position for too long, but sometimes sudden changes in brain chemicals can also lead to tightness of muscles. Stretches can definitely help relieve some tension and reduce headaches.
Wind Relieving Posture
The wind relieving yoga pose stretches back all the way from lumbar spine up to the neck. It’s referred to as wind relieving pose because it helps in expelling all excess gas from the body. To perform this exercise, lie face up on the floor. Extend both the legs straight and point both toes at the ceiling. Bend left knee inwards towards the chest and clasp hands below the knee and bring forehead to your knee by raising chest off the floor. Now lower back down and repeat by raising the right knee. The Sanskrit name of this particular pose is Pavanmuktasana.
Yoga Shoulder Shrugs and Neck Exercises
Yoga neck exercises will help release some tension in your neck muscles. Usually tight neck muscles lead to stiffness, poor posture, and tension headaches, but these stretches will improve flexibility in the neck area. To begin, sit or stand up tall. Try to bring chin to your chest and then slowly return back to looking straight ahead. Tilt your head to the left and then over to the right. Now extend neck backwards to look straight upwards. Return back to the center and do half-circles by bringing your chin back to the chest and rolling slowly from side-to-side.
Finish this exercise sequence with mild shoulder shrugs to quietly release some shoulder tension. Elevate your right shoulder upwards towards your ear and release it down, and then raise your left shoulder in the same manner. Now bring both shoulders up and then drop them down quickly to complete this exercise.
Behind the Back Stretch
This stretch is very useful for preventing tension headaches. Although this stretch is termed as behind the back stretch, it actually lengthens the front of your shoulders and chest. You can do this exercise using a char with a back that easily comes halfway back up to your back. Just sit at the edge of the chair with your feet firmly on the floor. Hold both your arms behind your back and hook them over the back of the chair. Gently retract shoulder blades and keep chest lifted and head up. You should feel a stretch in your shoulder joints. Avoid stretching too much as it may results in pain in your shoulders or chest.