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.