Tension headaches

What's causing my tension headache?

Tension headaches can be caused by a combination of factors, such as;

- Stress
- Anxiety
- Poor posture (especially as part of a sedentary lifestyle)

They can also be brought on and made worse by; hunger, dehydration, low iron levels, and fatigue. They are identified by the top and/or sides of the head feeling tight or sore, an intense pain behind the eyes and, in nearly all cases, tightness in the neck and shoulders will also be present. 

A lesser known cause is bruxism (jaw clenching) which is a symptom of stress. Bruxism often occurs during sleep, can affect the alignment of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and is a good example of how low grade muscular tension can cause constant headaches.

What can I do to help get rid of my tension headache?

Firstly speak to your doctor to make sure you have a tension headache as they may want to check it is nothing more serious. Once it has been diagnosed, try to reduce stress and postural imbalances, stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, eat well and sleep well - these can all help.

In general our breathing becomes shallow when under stress, therefore making a conscious effort to take deep breaths that start in your diaphragm will allow for plenty of oxygen to circulate through your blood.

In a 2010 Spanish study found that patients with recurring tension headaches reported better psychological states, reduced stress and fewer symptoms within 24 hours of receiving a 30 minute massage

Suitable Therapies

The muscles around the skull, neck and shoulders can be relieved by therapies such as Cranio-Sacral Therapy, through to massage in various forms; from a relaxing Indian Head Massage to a Deep Tissue Massage, or Sports Massage.

At The Therapy Centre we can also advise on postural issues that may be contributing to the issue and give you stretching techniques to use at home. Your posture can make all the difference when it comes to tension headaches. Dropping your shoulders and strengthening core muscles is key and this can be achieved through both Yoga and Pilates sessions.  Both activities will strengthen the core, focus the mind, stretch out muscles and help you to make the most of the oxygen you breathe in.

Acupuncture has also long been used to treat tension headaches. Acupuncture can assist by increasing endorphins and stimulating nerves in the soft tissues thus reducing inflammation.  


James Barnett