Headaches: A real pain in the neck
So you suffer from headaches? It's a shame that you have never found a real solution to your pain! We hear all sorts of reasons why our clients get headaches - it's stress, it’s the kids (or probably husband!), I've always had them. It just doesn't need to be this way. Many headaches are simply the symptom of a cranky neck and the pain itself is just a reminder that it is currently not coping well.
So let's go ahead and debunk some myths surrounding the dreaded headache and get you on the right path!
1. Alignment has nothing to do with it!
"My neck is out". Please put it back in, then read on!
I'm sorry to say this, but anyone telling you that a joint in your neck is "out" or not aligned correctly is not giving you a very good explanation of what is happening. While you may understand what the therapist is trying to say, its way too simplistic and doent help us find long-term solutions.
Some therapists will go to extraordinary lengths to try and convince you that the curvature of your neck is irregular, or that things ‘aren’t the way they should be’. But the truth is that the structure of your neck probably hasn’t changed in years, and is not the reason for your current headache. Even with ongoing headaches, you would still have some good days and your neck alignment is probably the same on those days too. These messages get dispersed, unfortunately, by practitioners that aren’t up to scratch on the latest research – in particular around mechanics, anatomy and pain. So much research has changed over the last few years, and ultimately that means that it’s the clients that get misinformation.
So the take home message here for you is that the spine does not have a perfect alignment, and the aim of treatment should not be to reduce angles or curvatures!
2. We need to strengthen our necks!
When you typically see a therapist for your neck pain or headaches, there tends to be a lot of manual therapy involved. Now I'll admit this can be great in the short term initially to decrease your pain, muscle spasm and protective mechanisms around the sore areas, however what seems to be missed is the crucial long term strategy - STRENGTH TRAINING!
Many therapists will be super gentle with your neck and, although I'm not trying to promote aggressive massage or mobilisation, we can definitely be a bit more aggressive with our exercises and strength training once the initial symptoms are reduced. The key reasons you have ongoing or reoccurring headaches is that the muscles around your neck and shoulders are not coping with the demands you are putting them through. They are getting fatigued, and when something is fatigued, it gets tight (and sore!). This may be due to sustained postures or simply positions which may be a requirement of your work or sport. I won't even say you have weak neck muscles, they just don't have the strength or endurance to cope - essentially they need to get stronger and "fitter".
Commonly headaches and neck pains are treated with gentle stretches or simple movements in all directions. This will help regain a little bit of movement (if you’re lucky) but will not do anything to help you cope with the demands of every day activities and function. To use a different example, if you had a serious shoulder injury and all your therapist did was simple bending and stretching, you’d probably question what the benefit was! (I certainly would)
If you need your neck muscles to cope with certain movements or sustained positions, then you need to train for it! Going back to the shoulder example, if you need to lift heavy objects, but you can only lift 5kg now, then you will look to train and get stronger and fitter - the same applies here for your neck!
I challenge you to take action against your Headaches!
If you have tried "physio" before, and this involved gentle stretches - Then you haven't tried real physio yet!
If you have tried "physio" before, wth exercises which involved a theraband - Then guess what? You haven't tried real physio yet!
If you have tried "physio" before, and you were given traction and a heat pack - Then you know what's coming! You haven't tried real physio yet!!!
This is an amazing opportunity to see what can and should be done for your headaches and you owe it to yourself to get a proper assessment and a proper management plan developed. Have you ever heard of a rugby player with their thick necks missing a game due to a headache.... me neither!
I'm so confident I can help you that I'd love to chat with you personally about your neck and headaches! Send through your details below and ill be in touch today!