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Tension Headache Exercises

By age2b_admin
November 7, 2021
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To relieve the pain of a tension headache, sit in a comfortable chair, making sure your neck is supported and is in proper alignment with your body. Your arms need to be supported at the elbows. Close your eyes and relax for about 15 to 30 minutes.

You can also try these simple tension headache exercises. Be sure to breathe deeply throughout the exercises and make all moves gently. Never force or push your body or your head. If you have any back, head or shoulder injuries, check with your doctor before doing these tension headache exercises.

1. Chin Tuck

  • Lie on the floor or a bed on your back, place a small towel roll behind your neck
  • Keeping your jaw relaxed, teeth unclenched, gently and slowly tuck your chin down toward your chest
  • Don’t let your neck come off of the towel, and don’t allow your head to lift from the floor or the bed
  • Hold the tucked-chin position of slight tension for a count of 5 before raising your chin
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times, gradually increasing the amount of time you hold the tension to a count of 10

2. Arm Slide

  • Stand upright with the back of your head and your hips against a flat wall
  • Bring your arms out to your sides and raise them up the wall to the height of your shoulders
  • Gently and slowly, continue sliding your arms against the wall upward, keeping your body flat against the wall, as high as you can raise them
  • Hold your arms in the highest position briefly, then slowly lower them
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

If you can’t get your arms flat against the wall or slide them very far, start very slowly. Or try the exercise lying on your back. The stretch will be felt wherever your muscles are the tensest. This may be between your shoulders, in your neck or at the base of your skull.

3. Rocking backward

Starting position is on your hands and knees (on all fours)
  • Gently roll your body in a backward motion, keeping your head straight and avoiding allowing your chin to raise up
  • Hold the position as far back as you can for a count of 15
  • Return to the starting position
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

The following exercises are good for migraine headaches, as well as being good tension headache exercises:

4. Neck rotation

Starting position is sitting up straight in a chair
  • Making sure to keep your chin level, slowly turn your head until your right ear is lined up with your right shoulder (you are looking over your right shoulder)
  • Hold this position for a count of 3
  • Look down at your shoulder, tipping your chin down
  • Hold this position for a count of 3
  • Return your head to the center
  • Repeat, turning your head to the left
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise, looking in both directions 10 times

For more stretch, hold each position for a count of 10 to 15.

5. Neck retraction

Starting position is sitting up straight in a chair

  • Squeeze both of your shoulder blades together as tightly as you can, sticking out your chest
  • Hold this position while pulling your head straight back, keeping your chin level
  • Hold this position of tension for a count of 5
  • Relax
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

6. Chinning

This exercise helps maintain the position of your head in proper alignment.

Starting position is sitting up straight in a chair

  • Keeping your head level, look straight ahead and inhale. Tuck in your chin.
  • Exhale, extending your chin
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 5 times

7. Shoulder Shrugs

Starting position is sitting or standing up straight, arms straight down at your sides
  • Relax your arms
  • Raise your shoulders up toward your ears
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Rotate your shoulders backward and then down (never rotate them forward)
  • Return to the starting position
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

8. Shoulder Retraction

Starting position is sitting or standing up straight, arms down at your sides

  • With both of your hands, touch your ears with your fingertips, raising your elbows slightly
  • Do not pull or push on your neck
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Hold this position of tension for a count of 5
  • Relax and return to the starting position
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

9. Upper Back Stretch

Starting position is sitting or standing up straight
  • Extend both arms in front of you
  • Clasp hands together
  • Pull your shoulder blades gently apart
  • Drop your chin down onto your chest
  • Hold this position for a count of 20
  • Relax and return to the starting position
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 10 times

11. Trapezius Stretch

Starting position is sitting or standing up straight
  • Rotate your head 45-degrees to the left.
  • Reach the top of your head with your left hand, cradling the back of your head in your fingers
  • Gently and slowly ease your head toward your left shoulder
  • Hold for a count of 10
  • Return to the starting position
  • Repeat for the right side
  • Repeat this tension headache exercise 5 times in both directions

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