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Tension Headache Relief and Prevention

Updated on April 2, 2013

Do you suffer from tension headaches?

A tension headache is the most common type of headache. It can be brought on by stress, muscle tightness, and spinal misalignment.

How do I know so much about tension headaches?

I began learning about tension headaches after I began suffering from them as a result of brazilian jiu jitsu training. Jiu Jitsu students are especially vunerable to tension headaches because spinal misalignment is common during practice, and your muscles can become tightened for prolonged periods of time. When I started getting headaches after jiu jitsu I asked around and always got the same answer; drink more water. That was frustrating because I was already drinking more water than most people, and I was still getting these massive headaches. Through trial and error, and a lot of research, I have learned to manage my headaches, and even learned how to prevent them from happening.

Tips for Tension Headache Relief

It is always a good idea to prevent a headache before it happens, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to stop them. Tension headaches can be extremely painful, and can disrupt your normal daily activities if they are not addressed. Here are some tips for achieving tension headache relief.

  1. Massage - if you are able to have someone give you a neck and shoulder massage, that is the best option. Find the knot that is causing the pain and work it out; you will get the best results through massage.
  2. Neck and Shoulder Relaxer - if you don't have anyone around that can give you a massage, then use a neck and shoulder relaxer, like the one featured in this lens, to stop your headache. It will relieve the tension in your shoulders and neck, and the headache will soon fade away.
  3. Stretching - stretching your shoulders and neck can sometimes help, although this is best when combined with a second treatment.
  4. Anti-inflammatory Drug - like stretching, I have found that this usually works better when combined with another treatment. Tension headaches can be very painful, and although the drugs might be able to dull the pain the problem is still going to be there. The best therapy would be to address the problem and work on relieving your shoulder and neck tension.

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Massage Therapy for Tension Headaches

We have all had a lousy massage before, and although people might be willing to work on you, not everyone knows how to properly gift a massage. In this video, courtesy of Love Life Massage, you will see exactly how to massage someone who is suffering from a tension headache.

Back Buddy and Thera Cane - ( for when you don't have someone to massage you)

I use a Thera Cane at home when I need a massage and don't have anyone available. The Thera Cane was suggested by our doctor to help with knots in my mother's shoulders. It quickly became a family favorite and now I have my own and have used it many times to work out a shoulder knot that was giving me a tension headache.

The Back Buddy is the same concept just a different manufacturer; both do the same thing.

Tips for Tension Headache Prevention

1. Use a neck and shoulder relaxer - use a relaxer, like one featured on this lens, to help prevent tension from building in your shoulders and neck. When used every day for 10-15 minutes, this is a great tool to help prevent headaches.

2. Take an anti-inflammatory drug - If you know you are about to get a headache, take an anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen; this will help stop the headache before it starts. For example, when I go to jiu jitsu classes in the evening I know I will be woken at 3-4am with a tension headache; so before bed I always take an Ibuprofen. An anti-inflammatory drug combined with a neck and shoulder relaxer always keeps me headache free.

3. Back Alignment Exercise - When I feel like my back is misaligned I know I'm at risk of getting a tension headache. To prevent the headache I do an exercise to help align my back and relax my muscles. See below for instructions.

Back Alignment Exercise

I like to do this exercise to help align my back after jiu jitsu; I have found that it helps prevent headaches from starting when combined with another prevention tip.

To do the exercise, sit on the floor and hold your knees; then roll back and forth on your spine over a hard surface. You might even hear your back crack as it re-aligns itself. If you can, put your legs over your head and touch the floor for a couple seconds, then release and roll back to sitting position.

Neck and Shoulder Relaxer - (use this to prevent and stop tension headaches)

When I would get headaches, I would roll up my pillow and put it in the curve of my neck to relieve the tension in my shoulder and neck area. Other than massage, this was the only way I could find any relief. When I found this Real-Ease product I kicked myself for not thinking of it first because it is designed to do exactly what I was doing with my pillow at home.

Real Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer
Real Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer

This product was designed to cradle your neck at the base of your skull to release muscle tension in your neck and shoulder area. This is the best investment you can make for yourself if you suffer from tension headaches. If you know someone that gets headaches, give them this and they will thank you forever!


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    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Exercise helps me overall with pain. I tend towards neck and shoulder pain versus headaches.

    • jojokaya lm profile image

      jojokaya lm 7 years ago

      Nice lens.....

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 7 years ago

      I don't do jew-jitsu, but I get terrible headaches listening to my stupid wife all night. I'll give these tips a try. Thanks chief.