Nobody likes a headache. They can put an unexpected roadblock in the middle of your day, impeding any momentum you were building. While many strategies exist in preventing headaches, we are always on the lookout for more.
Headaches are caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anger and insufficient sleep. Nevertheless, most sufferers may be unaware of the correlation between headaches and pinched nerves. Anybody who’s dealt with a pinched nerve can attest to the bouts of pain and arbitrary spasms — headaches just happen to be an offshoot. According to Dr. Ron Bittle of Peak Performance in Santa Clarita, “When the nervous system isn’t operating properly, it can do damaging things to the body.”
Bittle says he first learned of the relationship between headaches and pinched nerves at chiropractic school, and has since developed ways to both manage and prevent the problem. “Something I am passionate about is spreading the word to our community in Santa Clarita. Just telling one person can help a great deal.”
He offers three simple tips:
1. Learn to Breathe
Breathing with your diaphragm (belly) instead of your chest and shoulders tells your body you are in a state of relaxation, not stress: Breathe in slowly for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and out slowly for 4 seconds. Do four repetitions four times per day.
2. Relax your Neck
Roll up a hand towel so the width of the roll is about the size of your fist. Lie on the floor with the rolled towel under the middle of your neck so it puts your neck into extension. Breathe, and try to reach 20 minutes.
3. Get Adjusted
Chiropractic adjustments reduce muscle tension and increase nerve and blood flow. Many people who get once-a-month maintenance adjustments remain headache free.
This all lends itself to creating new habits. So many of our unconscious movements can cause pain, but Bittle’s expert advice is encouraging. He urges, “Stop putting your neck in flexion. Every single thing we do has our neck in this position.” Unfortunately, it’s true: We are constantly leaning forward, whether when driving, sitting at the computer or talking on the phone. This puts unneeded stress on our bodies, which can invariably lead to pinched nerves and the subsequent headaches.
Now the trick is just to put this knowledge into practice.