active release technique
Ep 359 – How to Get Rid of Tension Headaches
How To Get Rid Of Tension Headaches?
There are several types of headaches out which are migraines, cluster, sinus, and tension headaches. Headaches are a very important topic because a lot of people suffer from them! As a matter of fact the WHO states that about 50% of people will suffer a headache this year alone.
These very common disorders are important to address because they are classified as a nervous system disorder and many people actually call out of work sick, have a decrease in performance, anxiety, depression, pain, etc as a result of these disorders. Headaches are very important to address because they impose a large financial cost on the individual and the economy (loss of pay, unproductive days, treatment costs, testing, medication). As a result, headaches are the number three cause of loss (years loss due to disability).
More specifically, tension headaches are the most common types of headaches and they appear to be the most preventable, manageable, and treatable type as well.
What Are Some Causes of Tension Headaches?
Tension headaches often occur as a result of muscle tension and tightness that occur at the back of the neck. Things that can increase tension within the head and neck muscles include stress, eye strain, sitting for long duration (office work), dehydration, caffeine overload or withdrawal, alcohol, physical pain, poor neck posture, hormones and much more.
Whatever the cause may be, anything that can cause the body to have a physiological response to these stressors can cause guarding or tightness into the upper neck and lead to headaches.
In reaction to many stressors, the spine plays a huge role as it houses the spinal cord and brain. There is evidence that too much tension within the neck, or poor alignment of the vertebrae can place pressure on the Dura Mater. This is part of the outside covering of the spinal cord and the Dura Mater actually has connections with the nerves, and is pain sensitive. Disruption to this tissue has been linked to headaches and neck pain.
What are the Symptoms of Tension Headaches?
Symptoms of tension headaches are often a feeling of tension and tightness that wrap along the top of the head and go across the forehead. Many patients report it feeling like a band-like pain across the head. In addition, there appears to be a lot of discomfort and tightness at the back of the neck and sometimes even the upper back.
Many people often state that they have nausea, difficulty concentrating, head pressure, and pain at the back of the neck.
What are Effective Treatments For Tension Headaches?
As a Sports Chiropractor, I have seen many headaches in my time and almost all of them (any type) have been helped, improved, or eliminated with specific types of Chiropractic Care. In the office we specialize in soft tissue techniques such as myofascial release, Graston Technique, Active Release Therapy, etc. These techniques help to improve the circulation of blood flow, help stretch out muscles, and improve the range of motion of a joint.
Using manual manipulation (adjustments) and soft tissue techniques have shown to help all types of headaches. This research study demonstrated that when practitioners used Manipulation in combination with soft tissue techniques the outcomes were much better and manipulation helped to improve range of motion within the cervical spine.
In addition, manipulation has been demonstrated to play a factor to alleviating pain and disruption to the meningeal layers (layers of spinal cord) that contribute to headaches.
What are Some Tips to Help Reduce Headaches?
Headaches can be reduced in many ways as their are often a lot of factors that can be at play.
- Food – Food truly is medicine but there can always be “healthy foods” that you may be allergic to and causing inflammation within the body. Be sure to add whole foods and emphasize fruits and veggies. Healthy fruits, veggies have strong phytochemicals that help battle toxins and keep you healthy.
- Water – While this may be obvious you would be surprised how many people are actually walking around dehydrated. Think about it, we have coffee before work (maybe two), a short lunch break and the average person typically has a soda or two a day as well. If you really want to increase your health you need to start with water! My suggestion is that you drink about 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day.
- Eye strain – We spend enormous amounts of time on the computer, phone, reading, and in front of LED lights. The eyes are a critical feedback system that integrates with the brain and eye movements even effect our muscles in the back of the neck directly. Taking frequent breaks from computers and sustained breaks prior to sleep can help with better sleep and control headaches throughout the day.
- Posture / Neck Tension – As we sit or if we have poor posture, this can allow our head to protrude out further and further. All of this can cause poor spinal alignment, compress the spine and spinal cord, add tension to the muscles and create chronic tightness in the back of the neck and upper back. Left unchecked, this is often the common cause of chronic headaches that do very well with Chiropractic care.
- Self Myofascial Release – Since sometimes its too late before we get a headache its a good way to learn how to treat them on our own! Using a tennis ball, myofasical release ball or lacrosse ball, we can compress and mash the muscles that are tight and tender. This helps to loosen the muscle and help prevent compression of the nerves in the back of the neck and takes pressure off the spine, spinal cord (all structures that contribute to headaches).
Do you Suffer from Headaches?
If so and you have not resolved them or want natural ways to do so I highly recommend you schedule appointment by clicking HERE
Ep 358 – Elevate/Depress Shoulder Mash
Ep. 350 – How to Mash & Release the Upper Trap Muscle
Ep. 349 – How To Improve Mobility at The Office?
Ep 348 – Neck, Back, Ankle, Hip Adjustment & Hypervolt
Ep 346 -Can You Really Get High Quality Food For Cheap?
Ep 345 – Rocktape for Wrist Sprain
Ep 344 – How to Roll Out the Low Back without Hurting It!
Ep 342 – Standing QL Stretch for Low Back Pain
Ep 341 – Do You Have A Short Leg?
Have you ever been told that you have a short leg?
In the health and Chiropractic profession I see a lot of therapist tell their patients that they have some sort of condition, dysfunction and in this case, a short leg. The troubling part is not the short leg but rather that the therapist is likely not telling you the truth or they actually don’t understand the mechanics of your problem.
Why is a short leg important?
Any short leg can cause a lack of symmetry in the body. That lack of symmetry can produce biomechanics changes that cause one side to be used more often and create wear and tear. We see this in the lower back a lot when people are suffering lower back pain, SI joint pain, and/or hip pain.
So whats the deal?
You most likely do not have a short leg! Yes, DO NOT! In order to evaluate a true short leg you need to take an x-ray of the leg, thigh, and pelvis. You would also need to take an x-ray of the opposite side so that you can compare them and measure them. First of all, this is no standard and common practice to take that many x-rays for such a dysfunction. Some Chiropractors still take Full body x-rays which will allow you to see the whole body in one picture. This is very outdated and the profession, medicine has moved away from this. Finally, this subjects you to x-ray beams (ionizing radiation) that would be excessive for that individual.
When could you have a short leg?
Most true short legs occur naturally by birth. Sometimes people may have a short leg if they had surgery and hardware placed in them that can cause a length discrepancy.
So I don’t have a short leg, whats happening?
Most of the time people are actually having a “functional short leg.” This is really where you can change the function of the body and mechanics of the body that make it appear that you actually have a short leg. For example, a lot of people have a spasm or tightness into the lower back (specifically the QL muscle) and that muscle attaches to the hip. If it goes into spasm it will elevate the pelvis and make it appear as if you have a short leg.
Most short legs are not real short legs and they are due to muscle imbalances, and a lack of symmetry in the mechanics of the body. Releasing the tight muscles, strengthening the weak ones and creating balance in the body is critical for better mechanics, reduced wear and tear, and optimal performance.
Ep 339 – Wall Walk Extension
How to Increase your Mid Back Extension?
Mid back pain often comes from overly tight upper traps, poor neck posture, tightness within the upper back, and tightness within the chest. The inability to have proper upper back movements often results in neck pain and shoulder pain. With all the sitting we do in todays society we also roll our shoulders inward, which contributes to a very tight and shortened chest.
Why Loosen up The Mid-Back?
Loosening the mid back up is easy in concept but you may need to do this fairly often and make some daily changes to your posture to help lasting results. Simply stated, you need to loosen up the muscles that are overly tight and strengthen the muscles that are too loose. This will help correct muscle imbalances. It is sometimes difficult to know exactly which muscles need the care but generally speaking the upper back, shoulder, and chest need a lot of work.
Adding extension into the mid back helps the joint mechanics of the mid back, neck, and shoulder. As the mid back starts to overly round (kyphosis), it allows the neck to protract or move forward. As this occurs your head literally will translate more and more forward which can increase a lot more pressure on the spine, discs, nerves. From this point, many of the other muscles will begin to overly compensate and tighten up.
In addition, the scapular (shoulder blade) is a joint that follows the curvature of the thoracic cage. It is actually attached only by muscles so essentially it is just free floating but its directly effected by the curvature/position of the thoracic spine. When the spine bends forward again, the shoulder blade muscles then become de-conditioned and the position of the shoulder blade tips forward. This creates too much elevation of the scapula and compresses the rotator cuff. Specifically, this will compress the Supraspinatus muscle and is known as impingement syndrome. Other shoulder injuries or conditions that can arise from this is called scapular wining.
Either way, when your thoracic spine does not have enough mobility and extension you are most definitely risking chronic mid back tightness, neck pain, and shoulder injuries to come. Sometimes this can be an easy fix but there are a lot of factors, muscles at play in this.
To keep it very simple, start with improving your thoracic spine extension on the foam roller. Place the foam roller under the back and roll out your mid back. You may want to cross your hands over your chest or grab behind the neck.
If you are more advanced or need to get more range of motion you can use your hands to go over your head. By using your arms overhead you can then use the palms of the hands to help walk your spine into further extension which can help improve your mobility. Often times you can feel a pop or crack. This is called a cavitation and is actually a release of gas in the joint space. No worries, it typically feels good and will not contribute the any problems. This sound is the same sound that occurs when you crack your knuckles or when the Chiropractor does an adjustment to your spine.
The cavitation will result in a slight increase in range of motion. You can stop the foam rolling if you like if you get a crack or pop but it is advised that you repeat this exercise often and you should likely do this at least twice. The body learns through repetition repeatedly getting more motion will only benefit your mid back.
Ep 336 – Shoulder Rehab, Posterior Deltoid & Rotator Cuff
Ep 334 – Spine Rolling to Standing (One & Two Leg Variations)
Ep 333 – Plank Slaps
Ep 332 – Do Your Genetics Really Control Everything?
Ep 331 – Mash Roll & Move.
MASH Roll and MOVE!
This technique can be used for most areas of the body. It is a lot more effective when you add MOVEMENT to your already existing mobility exercises. Yes, it is more advanced but if you can do it then why not? First, start by warming up the muscle and foam rolling. Now, you can do this in any manner that you have in the past but the issue is that most people do not try new things! So after you do your “normal” stuff, then try to mash and mobilize the muscles by using different directions. Using different directions and rolling side to side allows you get fibers and areas of the muscle you may have missed.
Okay, so now you are really warmed up. Let’s add movement! Start by mashing and then taking the joint and muscle through a full range of motion. Yes, it will be a little harder and possibly more tender but you can most definitely (and I recommend this) lighten up on how hard you mash. Remember, this is a technique that can be applied to other areas of the body. Doing this technique can help elongate the fibers, reduce risk of injury, promote healing, blood flow, and reduce scar tissue formation. All of this can help improve how you move and thus reduce pain!