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Constant stress-related headaches? Here’s How ActiveKare Physical Therapy Can Help!

Constant stress-related headaches? Here’s How ActiveKare Physical Therapy Can Help!

Sometimes, a pill just doesn’t cut it when it comes to stress headaches. This class of headache includes the classic “band of pressure” around your head, as well as generalized aching and tenderness. The kind of muscle tension and emotional stress that lead to this type of head pain can create a complex chain reaction.  ActiveKare Physical therapy provides relaxation and posture correction. You’ll not only experience relief of your current headache, but future stress headaches may decrease.

Hands-On Relief

Some headache prevention techniques are simple enough to do at home. But a physical therapist can provide a more targeted approach when you’re anticipating a stress headache — or are in the grip of one. Alternating cold and heat therapy is a simple but effective strategy. These specialized compresses and gentle electronic pulse wands ease muscle strain. They also provide soothing relief.

Manual therapy also includes massage for stress headache treatment. Soft tissue mobilization relaxes tense muscles. Because of this effect, massage can provide immediate pain relief, or prevent future headaches. If you are currently having a headache, a physical therapy session eases the pain by relaxing the muscles in your jaw, temples, neck, and shoulders.

In addition, patients with chronic tension headaches report decreased incidents of head pain when undergoing regular massage therapy. It’s believed that relaxing the muscles in and around the head prevent the contractions that result in pain.

Physical therapy massage also helps ease the emotional stress that causes you to tense those muscles. In addition, people who get regular therapeutic massages report getting better rest, which leads to less stress during the day.      

Posture Correction

The way we stand and sit can influence how much pressure is put on various muscles. Poor posture compresses muscles and nerves. For many people, these overworked muscles and nerves in the shoulder, chest and neck area trigger tension headaches.


Our physical therapists at ActiveKare PT, can help evaluate your posture for areas that need improvement. He or she will also demonstrate the correct way to move, sit and stand. These changes place less stress on overworked muscles.

In addition to demonstrating chest, back and shoulder positions, a physical therapist can suggest lifestyle changes. Modifications to workstations at home and at work often have a big effect on posture. They might include a telephone headset, a raised computer monitor, a specialized chair and even a rubber mat to stand on while doing kitchen tasks.

Strength Training

Your shoulders, back and neck do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to keeping you supported throughout the day. If the muscles in these areas are too weak, they get overworked. Physical therapy work on neck and upper back muscles involves resistance training to build up the muscles.


For many people, stronger upper body muscles equate to fewer — and less intense — stress headaches. Exercises might start with simple chin-to-chest nods to build neck strength. Free weights and resistance bands build up shoulder and back muscles.

Flexibility Improvement

The more that you’re able to move your neck and shoulders as you move through your day, the less pressure you put on the major muscle groups in those areas. This potentially alleviates some of your stress headaches. In physical therapy, you’ll learn moves that will stretch your neck and loosen up your chest and shoulder muscle and tendon groups. Doing these regularly may help some people with chronic stress headaches.  


Want to learn more about relieving the frequency and severity of your chronic stress headaches? Contact our office to learn more. We’ll set up an evaluation of your specific challenges. We’ll also suggest a course of treatment to help you relax muscles, sleep better and make lifestyle choices that can fight off some of those debilitating stress headaches.  


Tension Headaches: How to Handle Them

Tension Headaches: How to Handle Them

Of the four distinct types of headaches — tension, migraine, sinus and cluster — the tension type is the most common. Of course, stress is a natural reaction to stimuli and can keep us safe from danger. Yet an excessive amount of stress can lead to tension headaches. That’s why learning how to handle emotional and physical stress can help reduce the severity and frequency of tension headaches.

If you’re concerned about your headaches, contact us — and read on, for some helpful tips about coping with tension headaches.

How the Body Reacts to Stress

When the “fight or flight” response is triggered, our bodies become flooded with protective hormones like adrenaline, which leads to a chain reaction of neck and scalp muscles contracting. These physical reactions often result in either tension or migraine headaches.  

Muscular overuse is another factor that leads to tension headaches. Holding your neck or shoulder joints in an unnatural position for too long causes supporting muscles to go into spasm. In turn, the muscles compress the adjoining nerves, sending pain impulses to your brain that result in headaches and sometimes a sore neck.

Working at a computer, bending over a work table or holding a phone to your ear for prolonged periods are all frequent causes of tension headaches from physical sources.

Additional Causes

Along with muscle-bunching activities like desk work, here are a few other factors associated with tension headaches:

  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Excess alcohol
  • Fluctuating caffeine levels
  • Eye strain
  • Use of tobacco products

Dealing With a Tension Headache

Here are three of the most common tips concerning how people effectively deal with tension headaches:

  • Stretch your neck muscles regularly. Tense muscles in the neck region are often tension headache culprits. Physical therapy can also help.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Whether it’s deep breathing, yoga or walking on your lunch break — finding a way to de-stress is key to stopping tension headaches before they start.
  • Adjust your ergonomics. Your workplace setup can cause headaches. Consider simple adjustments like setting up your monitor to a more comfortable position, and getting a headset for your telephone.

If you have a severe headache, especially if it’s an unusual type for you, seek immediate medical attention. Tension headaches, on the other hand, don’t require emergency care — but they can still be painful and interrupt your normal routine. We may be able to give you the tools you need to decrease the severity and frequency of these annoying headaches. Contact ActiveKare Physical Therapy today for more information.