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Tension headaches

This is the most common type of headache, which usually feels like a constant aching or pressure—rather than throbbing—on both sides of the head or at the back of the head and neck. Triggers can include stress, anxiety, bad posture, and clenching your jaw, and these headaches can become chronic, although they usually aren’t severe.

Experts today believe that a change in certain brain chemicals may be the main factors that contribute to tension headaches. These chemicals are the ones that help nerves communicate, such as serotonin, endorphins, and several others. They are not sure why the levels of these chemicals change. They suspect that the fluctuations activate pain pathways to the brain and probably undermine our ability to suppress pain.

Factors that contribute to tension headaches:




Poor posture

Segmental dysfunction in the spine

Staying in one position for a long time

Working in an awkward position for a long time

Clenching one’s jaw

Caffeine – individuals who drink large amounts of coffee tend to get more headaches than those with low consumption or people who never drink coffee.

Smoking Obesity/ overweight


Ways to reduce the onset of headaches:

Avoid upper chest breathing- breath with your stomach.

Reduce chronic hyperventilation

Stress management through deep breathing and relaxation

Reduce physical stress- ergonomics at work, sitting in bad posture, carrying heavy bags, not enough sleep, relax the jaw, shoulders and neck.

Manipulation of the spine

Good sleep quality


Clean diet

Regular exercise (avoid high intensity lactic acid training)

Know your headache triggers- keep a headache diary to keep track of what triggers your headaches and avoid these triggers in the future.

Hormonal. Women who often get headaches around their menstrual period can take preventive therapy when they know their period is coming.

Vision – do you need glasses or improve the old glasses/ contacts?

Muscle/ joint dysfunction- see a professional for example a Dr of Naprapathy, Chiropractor etc.

Areas of the body to stimulate to alleviate tension headaches:


Temporalis ( sides of the head)

Suboccipitals (base of the scull)

Scalenes (sides of the neck)

Sternocleidomastoideus (long muscles on the front of the neck)

Upper trapz / Levator scapula

Pectoralis minor (under the collarbone)

Accessory nerve glides

Thoracic mobilization

Neck mobilisation

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