It’s rare that a person has never had at least one headache in their lifetime. Avoiding headaches isn’t easy. Headaches tend to be triggered by tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles, but most people only experience them once in a while.
However, some people might have frequent headaches that radiate from the neck into the side or front of the head. If you’re having them at least 15 days per month, you fall into a category of patients who have cervicogenic headaches. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for the source of your cervicogenic headaches. People with headaches that are triggered by cervical disc pain can particularly benefit from two therapeutic exercises.
- Chin tucks
Treatment exercises for cervicogenic headache pain will often focus on the suboccipital muscles. These four muscle groups connect the top of your cervical spine to the base of your skull. Constantly looking down at a cellphone or laptop can cause them to tighten up, and this tightness can generate a cervicogenic headache. There are several therapeutic exercises that your therapist might recommend to stretch the suboccipital muscles. One such exercise is the chin tuck.
Steps for performing the chin tuck stretch
- Sit or stand with your eyes facing forward and your ears centered over your shoulders.
- Place one finger on your chin.
- Leave your finger where it is, and slowly pull your chin and head straight back until you feel a stretch at the top of your neck. Slight overpressure can be applied with the fingers if needed.
- Hold the stretch for three seconds.
- Slowly bring your head forward back to the starting position, avoiding (protracting) jutting your head forward.
- Rest your neck for a few seconds; then repeat these steps again until you’ve done the movement ten times.
- Side head tilts
Therapeutic exercises for cervicogenic headache pain treatment may also focus on the upper trapezius muscle. This muscle runs from the middle back to the shoulder blade, and it also runs from your shoulder blade to the base of your skull. One exercise that your therapist might recommend to stretch the upper trapezius is the side (lateral) head tilt.
Steps for performing the side head tilt
- Sit in a stable chair with good posture. Make sure your head is centered over your shoulders.
- Grip the bottom of the chair with your right hand and slowly tilt your head to the left. This should cause you to feel a stretch in the right side of your neck. Be sure to keep your eyes looking forward and not allow your head to rotate toward the floor.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Return your head to the starting position.
- Grip the bottom of the chair with your left hand now; slowly tilt your head to the right to stretch the left side of your neck.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Continue to repeat these steps until you’ve stretched both sides of your neck three times.
Effective treatment for cervicogenic headache pain can be found at Armor Physical Therapy
Do you want the best treatment for your cervicogenic headache pain? Our team at Armor Physical Therapy is ready to assist you. We offer free screenings that are designed to pinpoint the source of your headaches. Once the source is identified, our team of physical therapists can build you a personalized treatment plan, which may include therapy methods like:
- Therapeutic exercises
- Manual therapy
- Myofascial release
- Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM)
- Electrical stimulation
- Dry needling
Take the next step to start getting our help with your chronic cervicogenic headache pain. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free screening.