Picture this: it’s almost five o’clock at the office, but you have a to-do list of twenty things, and the emails just keep popping up in your inbox. You know that even when you go home tonight, all you’ll be able to think about is how much work is waiting for you at your desk tomorrow morning. You try massaging your temples and pinching the bridge of your nose, but the pain doesn’t stop. The headache has already started and you know it’s going to take away from your productivity for the rest of the day.
If this situation sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Stress-related headaches are nothing to joke about, and unfortunately some of us experience them more often than we’d like to admit. Taking over the counter medication to help make the pain go away doesn’t diminish the real issue that is causing the headaches in the first place though: stress!
Being able to identify a stress-related headache is the first step, but from there you also need to actively take steps to address the true cause of the pain, as well as the pain itself. Pain relieving medication is a temporary fix for a long-term problem. The severity of stress-related headaches can be reduced by physical therapy, as well as how often you experience these types of headaches.
How Do Stress-Related Headaches Happen?
Most of us aren’t even aware of how we physically carry our stress throughout the day. Stress-related headaches develop because of a combination of hormones and physical tension in your body, often around the neck and shoulder area. Sitting in uncomfortable office chairs, being stuck inside all day long, or sitting in a car on a frustratingly long commute home at the end of the day are all factors that can contribute to extra tension in the body. All of that tension shows itself as debilitating, painful stress-related headaches.
How Can Physical Therapy Help With a Stress Related Headache?
- Encouraging muscle relaxation. A physical therapist can help you understand muscle relaxation techniques, which will be super helpful to you the next time you’re in a stressful situation. They can teach you how to relax your muscles instead of constricting them, which will promote airflow through your body, and increase your ability to stay calm. This helps decrease the amount of tension headaches you’re experiencing.
- Reducing tension in the neck and back. A targeted stretching routine is one of the most common ways that physical therapists will combat the tension that is held in your back, neck, and shoulders. These are simple stretches you can repeat at home or at work. Once your physical therapist has showed you the best form of stretching, you can be sure that the stretching you’re doing on your own will be correct and safe.
- Alleviating tension in the jaw. The jaw is a common area to hold tension, as some people are prone to clenching their jaw when they get upset, angry, or frustrated. The only issue is that the jaw is not able to be stretched out at home. Your physical therapist will use massage and other techniques to reduce tension for you in your jaw, which will also help to reduce headaches.
Physical therapy is not only a type of treatment for people who have been in car accidents or received sports related injuries. Tension headaches can alter your everyday life if you let them, but you don’t have to with the right form of physical therapy. Contact our office today for more information about using physical therapy to overcome pain caused by your stress-related headaches.