How To Perform Simple Relaxation Techniques To Keep Your Tension Headaches From Coming Back
Breathing For Relaxation
The way you breathe greatly influences your state of relaxation - or lack of it. And since being tense can contribute to tightness - especially in your neck and shoulders - it's worthwhile to practice breathing techniques that help you relax.
By simply focusing on your breathing, you move toward relaxation. For starters, whenever you find yourself dwelling on upsetting thoughts, shift your awareness to your breath (unfortunately, our thoughts are often a source of anxiety and unhappiness).
What you're going to learn in the following exercise is conscious regulation of breath. It's simple, takes almost no time and you can do it virtually anywhere.
The best way to do this exercise is to be seated with your back straight (although you can do it in any position).
Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue that's right behind your upper front teeth. Make sure you keep it there during the entire exercise (you'll be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue).
1. Exhale completely through your mouth (you should make a "whoosh" sound as you do this)
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
3. Hold your breath to a mental count of seven
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, (making a whoosh sound) to a mental count of eight
This entire cycle (1 through 4 above) is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the entire cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Keep in mind that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale loudly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue should stay in position (against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth) during all four breaths.
While the absolute time you spend on each phase is not important, the ratio for all three phases of the exercise is (remember the ratio is a mental count of four for the inhalation through your nose; a mental count of seven for holding your breath, and a mental count of eight for exhaling through your mouth).
This exercise acts as a tranquilizer for your nervous system. It becomes more powerful the more often you do it.
You can do it as often as you like, in fact the more often you do it the better your results will be.
With practice, you'll notice a sense of detachment and/or lightness after doing this exercise. Once you get in the habit of doing this technique, you'll find it defuses stress. I suggest that you use it whenever anything upsetting happens, or whenever you are aware of inner tension.
How to Use Acupressure to Get Rid of Chronic Tension Headaches
Summary: This article discusses how to use acupressure to get rid of tension headaches
If your headaches don't happen every day, or if your neck only tightens up at work, you may get relief from a technique called acupressure. It's sort of like acupuncture, but there are no needles involved and you don't need to know specific anatomical points. What you're going to do is stimulate muscle "trigger points." A trigger point is an area where you have or have had pain. If you stimulate that area, you'll cause more pain.
Yes, I know that sounds counterproductive, but bear with me; it'll make sense to you shortly.
First, you need to find a trigger point to stimulate. That's easy. Take your hand and run it over the muscles in the back of your neck and down the base of your neck to your shoulders. They're probably tight, so you may have to push into the muscles a little bit. Besides being sore and tight, you'll feel little lumps or knots. If you push these knots...WOW!
Sore, huh? That sore knot is a trigger point.
Now comes the fun part. Using the tip of a finger - the one that's going to reach the trigger point and provide you with the most leverage - roll over the trigger point until you find the tip. Push your finger in as hard you can, right through to the trigger point. Yes, it's going to hurt - in fact, it's going to be extremely painful.
Nevertheless, I want you to continue pushing until:
1. You can't stand the pain, or
2. You feel the trigger point "pop" or dissolve (you won't actually hear it pop, but you will feel a little explosion in your muscle)
A tingling sensation may spread out from the trigger point. That's normal. Once the pain subsides, your headache will most likely either significantly decrease in intensity or disappear. If you have more than one knot, or trigger point (as is likely), you'll need to stimulate each one.
Sometimes, because of the position of the trigger points, you won't be able to get a good angle on them with your finger. This will prevent you from being able to apply enough force to dissolve them. If that happens, you need to enlist the help of a good, trustworthy friend, or your spouse/significant other.
When using acupressure on yourself to dissolve trigger points, don't worry about hurting yourself or, if someone's using acupressure on you, someone hurting you. The worst thing that can happen is you won't be able to "pop" the trigger point. In that case, wait until the area of the trigger point calms down, then repeat the procedure.
If you suffer from daily tension headaches and are starting to have other, more serious symptoms - like tingling in your arms or weakness in your hands - acupressure isn't going to be very effective because you have too much spasm over too wide an area.
Fortunately, there's a second technique for permanently getting rid of these spasms.
Abdominal Exercises To Practice To Keep Chronic Tension Headaches Away
In order to correct your posture - which is critical for getting permanent relief from chronic tension headaches - you need to work on your abdominal muscles. These muscles are important because they help stabilize your back and hold in your internal organs.
If youíve been slouching all your life while you sit and walk, youíve assumed a slightly bent-over posture. This has taken your abdominal muscles off line. By having taken your abdominal muscles off line, youíve negated the effect of these muscles. The result: an increased pull on your back. Thatís why youíre sore and stiff at the end of the day, even though youíve only just been sitting or walking. Working your abdominal muscles will take care of that problem - but only if you exercise them properly.
Recent research sheds some new light on the way you should be working your abdominal muscles to get them to properly support your upper body. A properly supported upper body means there's no extra stress on your neck, shoulders and upper back - which in turn means you're unlikely to suffer from chronic tension headaches.
Iím sure youíve seen pictures of body builders or elite athletes with washboard stomachs. In athletic circles, such stomachs are known as six-packs. Thatís because in the absence of fat, in well-defined abdominal muscles there are six little squares that are apparent in the musculature. Those muscles are called the erectus abdominus, which are most effectively developed by doing your traditional sit-ups or abdominal crunches.
Itís long been believed that strong, well-developed stomach muscles are important to taking pressure off the lower back.
However, recent research - in particular some EMG studies - shows that during most activities the erectus abdominus muscles donít function very much (EMG is an acronym for electromylograph - it measures muscle function during exercise). These studies indicate that even though the erectus abdominus muscles support some of the internal organs, they donít contribute to the stabilization of the torso and lower back as much as was previously thought.
This research also shows that the oblique muscles - the ones often called ďlove handlesĒ when theyíre possessed by someone whoís out of shape - are the ones that are chiefly responsible for stabilizing the torso and lower back.
Most people neglect the internal and external oblique muscles when they work out, concentrating instead on doing crunches or sit-ups in order to help develop the erectus abdominus.
Yes, they look great when they pop out, but thereís an easier way to get that effect - just eliminate body fat in the abdominal region! Basically, what science is telling us is that weíre wasting our time by doing crunches or sit-ups because they really donít work the muscles that support the lower back and torso - the obliques. There are, however, two abdominal exercises that work the obliques well. If you stick with these two, youíll develop your oblique muscles, which will then be better able to stabilize your back and torso and allow you to maintain a correct upright posture all day.
The first exercise is to lie on your back. Now flex your hips and knees so that youíre in a 90-90 position. In other words, both your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Your elbows should be slightly out to your sides and your arms should be raised, forming another 90- degree angle so that the arms are upright.
Now keep your hips and knees flexed and raise your arms over your head, while at the same time extend one leg straight out in front of you. Then bring your arms back to their original position and, simultaneously, bring the leg back to its original position. Now repeat the exercise with your other leg, while, again, raising both arms over your head.
Essentially, what youíre doing is stretching out your body one leg at a time, but using both arms at the same time. Do this exercise until the abdominal muscles begin to burn - the fatigue point. You need to do this exercise daily.
The second exercise is a side-lying raise. What you do is lieon your side, roll up a towel and stick it underneath your hip. Then (if youíre lying on your left side), put your right arm behind your head and try to raise your torso up sideways until your shoulders clear the ground. Donít worry if your obliques arenít strong enough, or if you have a little excess fat around your midsection that doesnít allow you to move too much.
As long as you begin the movement, you should be able to feel the contraction of the oblique muscle. As long as the muscleís contracting, itís working, which means youíre doing the exercise properly.
Again, I want you to stop when you feel a burning in the muscle. Then turn over and repeat on the opposite side. As with the other exercise for your obliques that I discussed, you need to do this exercise every day.
Baroque Music and Exercise Help Prevent Chronic Tension Headaches
Summary: This article discusses how Baroque music and exercise help prevent chronic tension headaches
MUSIC AND SOUND
Sound profoundly influences the nervous system. It can make us excitable or aroused, help us be calm and relaxed, or make us tense or anxious.
Obviously, you want to expose yourself to sound that promotes relaxation if you're working toward reducing stress in your life.
Classical music - especially baroque music written in the key of largo at four-quarter time - is excellent for promoting a calm mental state.
Baroque music, written in four-quarter time (60 beats a minute), causes your heart rate to drop, or start to drop, to mimic the 60 beats a minute you're listening to.
As a result, your muscles begin to relax and you'll begin to calm down.
Another benefit of listening to baroque music is that it helps increase learning comprehension. For example, if you listen to taped information and baroque music at the same time, you'll accelerate the learning process (provided you're in a relaxed state - which baroque music induces).
Give it a try. Listen to a tape or CD of baroque music on your way home from work, or after dinner.
Aerobic exercise is great for moderating the effect of your emotions. If you're upset about something, a brisk walk or bike ride, or half-hour lifting weights will often calm you down.
Exercise takes built-up energy and tension and allows you to release them constructively. If you don't exercise or haven't mastered more complex ways of overriding negative emotions, stress will remain bottled up inside you.
The result is a multitude of undesirable side effects - like tense neck, shoulder and upper back muscles.
You should exercise at least five days a week, for one-half hour each time.