Archive for April, 2010

Stressed and Tired of These Headaches!

April 5, 2010

We live in a society that encourages and almost takes pride in having high levels of stress. The American way these days is working 60 hours a week (both parents), parents shuttling their kids to different sports or activities twice a day everyday, and leaving no time for family time. All this and more equals stress, stress, and more stress. When many of us are stressed where do we feel it? Usually between the shoulder blades, neck, and the head. The more stress we have and the more stress we are unable to handle or adapt to turns into muscle tension. This muscle tension 9 out of 10 times turns into a blistering headache. Then after the storm has calmed, we sit down and relax or may the spouse gives a neck rub, the headache will go away. But unfortunately this stressful world we live in is not just here one day then never to be seen again. We have this stress every single day and these headaches day after day. Now after months or even years the headaches are more persistent than ever and do not go away so easily. They have become chronic!

Chronic headaches can give the individual a devil of a time. If you have ever noticed when you are stressed your shoulders are shrugged up and tensed. The muscle between the neck and shoulder called the trapezius is the culprit. When this muscle is under tension for long periods of time headaches can present. Other muscles more commonly known to lead to a headache are the suboccipital muscles. These little guys are at the top of your neck at the base of your skull.

When you are under stress or have poor posture (which can be a result of stress), the suboccipitals can build tension and go into spasm irritating the nerves that penetrate through and run along and around the skull causing the infamous headache. Misalignments in the upper cervical spine can also result and cause further issues to be resolved.

So what can you do? Well, stress is sometimes difficult to minimize. We are under stress all the time, the key is can your body adapt and handle it? There are many effective ways to deal with stress. Meditation, yoga, chamomile tea, exercise, and sex are a few things you can do to help the body handle stress. The key is to elicit the body’s relaxation response. To learn more about this topic I highly recommend the book “The Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson, MD. Not all stress can be avoided, but everyone can find their inner relaxation response. Another way to deal with stress, get adjusted by a chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to deal with the physical and chemical stress and the headaches that can result. Your diet can be a major cause of stress or it can the limiting factor that’s not allowing you to handle the stress in your life. Keep a food diary for one week and you might be surprised that you really don’t eat that well or it could be worse than you thought. Changing your diet can change your life.  

Stress is the true silent killer and headaches can be a sign that you are under too much stress. It’s your health and your body, start taking responsibility for it today.

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