Headaches are a common experience that affect many people, both young and old. There are different types of headaches, but the most common ones include tension type headaches, migraines, and neck headaches. Many of you often wonder how to get rid of headaches effectively. In this article I will reveal some must-know secrets about headaches.
Various factors can lead to headaches, although the exact mechanisms remain unclear. For many individuals, triggers include lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, sleep and posture. Here is a list of six common causes or triggers of headaches:
Drinking alcohol increases the flow of blood to your brain, which may lead to headaches. Another factor that may contribute is the substances contained in the alcohol, or the byproducts of its metabolism in your body. Common alcoholic headache triggers include red wine, whiskey, beer and champagne.
Certain foods can also be responsible for headaches, and many different foods have been implicated. Among the most common are processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausage and pepperoni. Processed meats contain preservatives or additives like nitrates and nitrites, which can trigger headaches. Aged cheeses such as blue cheese and parmesan, which contain high amounts of tyramine, are another common food trigger.
Disturbances to sleep
We can’t emphasise the importance of sleep enough, especially when it comes to headaches. If you’re sleeping less than usual or habitually leave little time for sleep, you place stress on your body, which can result in headaches. Conversely, oversleeping can also cause headaches because it interrupts your body’s normal cycle.
It’s not only certain foods that can trigger headaches, but also dietary habits like skipping meals. Having the right food in your diet, and eating it at the right time is important. Missing meals disrupts your body’s normal metabolism, which can result in headaches.
Stress has long been associated with headaches, although the exact mechanism is uncertain. One theory is that stress makes you more vulnerable to headache triggers. So in a sense, it lowers your threshold, meaning you’re more likely to get a headache when you’re under stress.
Poor posture is a common cause of headaches. Sustaining a posture that includes an increased bend and arch in your spine can stress or compress your neck joints, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. When these forces overwhelm the structures in your neck, it can cause damage and pain.
Because the nerves supplying your neck also supply the skin over your head, this pain can then be referred to your head – causing a headache. That’s why these types of headaches may also be called cervicogenic (neck-related) headaches, because their origin is in the neck.
Cervicogenic headaches often respond to physiotherapy, which eases the soft tissue restrictions in your neck, and speeds up healing. Physiotherapy focuses on your neck and the back of your head (the occiput), and may involve:
- Manual therapy, such as spinal joint mobilisation and massage to loosen stiff joints and tight muscles
- Strengthening exercises, which target the deep neck flexors and postural muscles
- Correcting your posture.
At BodyFit, to prevent future headaches as well as treat current ones, we use strengthening exercises, postural awareness techniques, and/or taping.
Call us on 0800 11 00 31 to book your appointment or a no-obligation FREE assessment either at our Howick or Pakuranga clinic so we can tell you if and how we can help you end your headaches.