These Headache Stretches Work as Well as Pain Pills
No ibuprofen? No problem.
A surprising headache cause? Your musclesEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Many headaches are caused by muscles in the neck area. If you work at a desk every day and don’t have perfect posture, you may be used to these. Instead of relying on pain meds, try some headache-relieving stretches that target these muscles. Experiment to see which stretches work best for you. You can use them to prevent headaches or even to halt a burgeoning headache in its tracks. Hold each stretch for a few seconds and perform them gently; they shouldn’t hurt. If you have neck or upper back problems, you may need to talk to your health care provider before attempting such exercises. Check out more of my smart health tricks and first aid hacks here.
The backward shoulder rollEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Roll your shoulders backward. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you roll.
The forward head rollEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Tilt your head sideways so your left ear is tilted down toward your left shoulder. Roll your head forward, to the right, until you’re looking at the floor. Continue rolling your head to the right until your right ear is tilted above your right shoulder. Now reverse: Roll your head forward to the left.
The wingtips stretchEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Extend your arms straight out like you’re pretending to be a plane. Bend your elbows and touch your ears with your fingers. Now you look like a bird. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were getting ready to take off.
The “look behind you!” stretchEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Turn your head to the right to look over your shoulder. Bring your chin down toward your shoulder. Repeat on the left.
The chin tiltEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
This one’s more complicated. Don’t hurt yourself. Tilt your head to the right so that your ear is toward your shoulder. Jut your chin slightly forward. Tilt your head forward and down a little, keeping your chin out a bit. Use your right hand to gently push your head forward and deepen the stretch. Do the same thing again on the left side.
The twistEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Sit in a chair. Twist your torso to the right. Put your right hand on the back of the chair with your upper arm extended about 90 degrees from your torso and your elbow pointed behind you. Stretch. Repeat on the left side.
The bear hugEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Extend your arms in front of you as if you were going to hug someone. Bring your hands together and interlace your fingers. Tilt your head down, pulling your chin in.
The imploding-chin stretchEmma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong
Stand up straight, as if you were balancing a book on your head. Using your neck muscles (not your hands), pull your chin straight back, as if you were trying to make it touch the portion of the spine that’s directly behind it.