Corrective Exercise: A Natural Remedy for Headache & Migraine Relief

Headache and migraine pain are two very common pain conditions I work with here in my studio with clients.  I believe there are many natural remedies to help people relieve headache and migraine pain without the use of prescription and over the counter medications.  

 

Recently Natural Society (one of my favorite on line health resources I personally subscribe to) published a great article called 7 Natural Remdeies for Migraines.   Author Susan Patterson writes:

 

"Those who suffer from migraine headaches are more than familiar with the debilitating pain that ensues when one strikes. While there are numerous OTC and prescription drugs available to combat the pain, some people would rather choose a more natural approach. Natural remedies for migraines aren’t accompanied by the same side effects that drugs have, and are often used for prevention rather than treatment. A healthy diet, herbal therapy and whole food supplements are natural options available to migraine sufferers; here are some tips for preventing and treating migraines naturally."


7 Natural Remedies for Migraine Pain Relief

 I completely agree!  A healthy diet, herbal therapy and whole food supplements can do WONDERS for helping the body function its best.  And in my opinion, investing in a natural approach to prevent and treat migraines is well worth trying as a first course of action prior to medicating.  She goes on to list seven natural remedies which are:

  1. Avoid Processed Foods
  2. Avoid Certain Foods
  3. Lavender Therapy 
  4. Butterbur
  5. Lemongrass - Other Herbal Remedies
  6. Tryptophan Therapy
  7. Herbal Pain Relief Tea

 

The Missing Link:  Corrective Exercise 

In my experience, I've come to believe that the BEST natural medicine is when you combine mind, body and spirit. For that reason, I feel that a very important component is missing from the Natural Remedy list.   I would add Corrective Exercise!

  Your body, specifically your overall posture and head position can greatly affect the incidence of headaches and migraine pain.  

 

  When you have poor posture, people rarely consider that there is a direct link to oxygen flow and brain function.  Poor posture almost always forces the head shift out of position.  Combine that with the rise of "i-Posture" from prolonged sitting, texting and technology use, it actually surprises me that people don't make the connection.


Forward Head Posture 

  When the neck and head shift out of place (most common is a forward head position or increased cervical lordosis) it is a direct result of an inability to correctly/effectively engage the load-bearing joints and posture mucles.  

 

In the chapter on neck and head pain in the book Pain Free, Pete Egoscue writes:

 

"An unstable, and semi-collapsed musculo-skeletal system cannot efficiently perform its role as an oxygen pump.  The impediment goes even beyond disrupting the diaphragm and lungs.  

 

In a forward head position, the muscles adjacent to the arteries that travel through the neck do not fully assist in the uphill transportation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain.  In general, the flexion and extension of muscles help propel blood through the circulatory system.

 

But muscles that are locked in flexion or are flaccid from disuse cannot do this.  It is a major loss of biomechanical capacity.  I have never known a migraine sufferer whose head, neck and shoulders were not out of position in the characteristic mode of forward flexion.  Muscles also allow the eyes to focus and to adjust the amount of light that reaches the photoreceptors of the retinas.  These muscles are small and specialized, but like any other muscle, they must have adequate oxygen to operate.  As the flow of oxygen diminishes - that is, as the hemoglobing is less and less oxygenated because of biomechanical limitations the msucles of the eye lose their fine-tuning ability.  And the subtlety of adjusting the eye's lens, pupil, and iris makes setting the precision valve we are discussing earlier appear crude and clusy by comparison.  Starved of oxygen, the muscles lose the ability to quickly and smoothly adjust to changes in light levels and focal plane.  Like any muscle that cannot rejuvenate itself, hey underreact, overreact, and generally blunder around trying to do the job - and can't.  The less oxygen they receive, the worse the problem gets.  The migraine sufferer rushes to turn out the lights and to cover his or her eyes with a cold towel.  The pain is terrible.

 

So treat migraines and other headaches, let's start with the obvious symptoms - and try to restore oxygen flow. (Pain Free p. 198-199)

 

And that's exactly what we do with our clients here.  We address the sypmtom by treating you as a WHOLE body.  We look for and address the root cause of a forward head position and poor oxygen and blood flow to the head and neck through corrective exercise, AND we discuss natural options to treating headache and migraine pain through diet and food choices.  

 

Your posture does matter, and corrective exercise is very viable and often overlooked natural remedy for chronic headache and migraine pain relief.  But don't take it from me.  


Here's recent feedback from a client of mine who came in to work on his posture, but was skeptical about the connection between his forward head posture and daily headaches:

 

"Not sure how much my overall posture has improved, as I have a hard time sensing or feeling my body position, but I do feel some changes are happening. I have not had any headaches upon waking up. Thank you!" ~ Eric R.

 

Remember.  The body does not work in isolation of one part to another.  It works as a unit.  That's why simply treating your neck or medicating for chronic headache or migraine pain is not a cure, but just a means of treating the symptom.  

 

When you invest in natural remedies that address the root cause by aligning the body in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the results can be truly life changing.

 

If you suffer from headaches and migraine pain and you've never made the connection between your posture and pain, give it a try!  

  

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Head Photo Credit:  Ruby and Roxy Photography

Deb Preachuk is a Chronic Pain Pain Relief, Posture Restoration and Athletic Performance Enhancement pro specializing in corrective exercise, applied biomechanics, STOTT Pilates and functional movement patterns. 

Founder of Pain Free Posture MN,  Deb helps real people transform real-world chronic pain challenges into achievable results. Deb infuses her teaching with an honest, open and down-to-earth mix of chronic pain relief therapeutic modalities training techniques to make the concepts of pain relief and body/mind transformation accessible and achievable!