Headaches

One of the most common types of headaches is the tension type headache.  These stem from the musculature in the neck and head.  Trigger points or taught bands can form in the muscles and create a headache.  These tight muscles can also entrap the greater occipital nerve resulting in a headache.  Treatment of these muscles and entrapped nerves with Active Release Technique typically results in resolution of acute headaches.  Recurring headaches and those that do not respond well to ART are commonly compounded by another issue. While understanding the direct cause of tension headaches is imperative, identifying the underlying issue that causes the muscles to be tight is paramount to long term resolution of the issue.Stress, poor posture, and improper breathing patterns are the most common underlying conditions.  It’s probably no surprise that stress is on the list and everyone deals with this in a little bit different way.  In this article, I am going to focus on the other two.  While poor posture and improper breathing patterns are separate issues they are interconnected very tightly.  We are supposed to inhale using our diaphragm which sucks air into our lungs, causing expansion and elevation of our chest.  Instead of using our diaphragm, we very often we use the muscles in our neck and across the top of our shoulders to elevate our chest allowing some air into our lungs, this is incorrect.  We breath between 12 and 20 times per minute.  So, adding 15 or so breaths a minute to the muscles in our neck in addition to the work they are meant to perform, it is no wonder they get tight and cause headaches.  This is where the poor posture becomes an issue.  When we use the muscles in our neck to do something they are not meant to do, they alter the proper position of the head and neck.  This altered and commonly forward head posture only adds to the stress placed on the muscles in the neck and across the top of the shoulders. This increased tension can lead to the formation of trigger points and entrapment of the nerves, resulting in headaches.  Active Release Technique along with a few exercises focusing on proper diaphragmatic breathing can help with posture, and greatly reduce the tension in the muscles causing the headaches.

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