These exercises might be best practiced while waiting in a line or sitting at a desk for extended periods.
When it comes to pain, there is nothing quite like a headache. There are some people that get headaches that cause nausea, dizziness, and pain that is quite unbearable.
When you have a headache there is nothing you want more than for it to go away. We take medicine, close our eyes, and sometimes even pray for it to end. There is some good news about headaches. When it comes down to it, prevention is key. You can take a few simple steps when you feel a headache coming on in order to prevent them from getting worse, and potentially mitigate them altogether.
Your Head as a Unit
One of the first things that you need to realize when you are dealing with headaches is that your neck, jaw, tongue, throat, and head, are all part of the entire unit and when there is something wrong in one area, there is likely something going to be wrong with the other parts as well. For this reason, sometimes we need to exercise everything within the unit to improve the way it feels overall.
There are several exercises that you can do that will not only help you improve your neck and head motion, but also the motion of the jaw. Increasing the motion in all three of these areas can lead to fewer headaches and other pains overall. These movements are fairly simple, but can have a big impact on your overall well-being.
This particular exercise works on the muscle located in the base of the skull. To start you will want to put your fingers at the very base of your skull and tuck your chin in tightly. You will then want to move your whole neck forward. Next, pull your head back, like a chicken. When you do this movement you should feel a bit of a stretch at the base of the skull. Continue doing this four or five times. The motion should be pain free.
Once you have started to move the base of the skull, you can start turning your head about 15 to 20 degrees to the right and then to the left. You will be isolating your muscles on each side of the spine. This should feel very good overall. Once you have loosened up the base of the skull and the back of the neck it is time to move on to the jaw.
Stretching the Jaw
The first exercise that can be used to strengthen the jaw is to start out with your mouth closed. Your lips should be touching. Your teeth will be apart, not wide, but loosely apart. There are three different movements to do in order to stretch and strengthen your jaw.
The first movement will consist of putting one hand on each side of your chin. You will then push forward with your jaw and your hand will provide resistance. It is important to not overdo this. Keep it really light. As you are doing this movement, see if you notice any differences in the sides of your jaw.
Make sure that you provide similar force with each hand. You will want to hold the resistance for about 10 seconds and repeat this movement about 3 or 4 times. Make sure that you keep the pressure low. You will want to hold it for about ten seconds and the rest and then repeat. You will start to feel a bit of fatigue building up in your jaw muscles.
Once you have done the neck and jaw exercises you are going to move on to exercising the tongue. This may seem a bit weird, but tongue exercises are quite common. In fact, they are used by many speech therapists. They are also starting to be used by some for snoring and other issues that are similar. However, the research for how well it works for these things is still somewhat clouded. However, there is research that shows that strengthening the tongue can impact the flexibility of the neck and increase the overall function of the head.
The first tongue exercise is quite simple. You will want to take the tip of the tongue and push it onto the roof of the mouth where your palate and teeth meet. Keep your lips closed. Press quite hard with the tongue for around ten seconds, then take a ten second break and then repeat. Do about 3 sets of 10 presses.
If you want to know if you are doing these exercises the right way, place your fingers under your chin and you should be able to feel the muscles popping. This will create a toning effect for the muscles that are located under the jaw.
Once you have completed this first exercise, for the next one you are going to take the tip of your tongue and place it on the roof of your mouth once again. You will then move your tongue back so that it is rolled under the first big ridge on the roof of your mouth. Keep your lips closed and your lips together and press. Hold it for ten seconds, rest, and repeat.
These tongue exercises are fairly basic, but they can have a large effect on the overall function of the jaw, neck, and head. Many people find that these exercises can be extremely beneficial and help them overcome headaches and any jaw issues that they may be having.
If you are having any type of jaw issues at all you should definitely give these exercises a try. While you should start out putting very little pressure on these muscles, you should work up to increasing the amount of pressure that your muscles can take. Strengthening this area of the body can be beneficial for many reasons. After all, your head is at the top of the kinetic chain (musculoskeletal movement chain), and if it’s in a bad position it’s likely the rest of your body (i.e. spine, hips, knees, feet) will be out of alignment.
In the Exerscribe App, I’ve included a “Corrective” button where you can get a corrective exercise in the middle of your workout based on the area of your body you’re experience pain. The App integrates this neural-reset drill for one set to re-calibrate the brain and body, mitigating the pain, and taking you right back to your workout where you left off so you never skip a beat with progress.