There is no one “cure-all” to get rid of your headache because headaches have many different causes, but there are a few techniques that are effective for most headaches. If you have a headache, start with these strategies.
For Short-Term Relief:
1. Drink plenty of water
There is no exact amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Mayo Clinic, or the World Health Organization. That is because each individual’s water requirements can vary based on their age, health, gender, activity level, and even the weather.
But, if you have a headache, it’s a good idea to start by drinking some water as dehydration is a common cause.
2. Consider drinking (or eating) some caffeine
If you skipped your morning coffee or your usual lunchtime Coke, there’s a good chance your headache is from caffeine withdrawal.
Drinking some caffeine could help your headache for now, but it might be a good idea to begin decreasing your caffeine intake. Otherwise, you run the risk of future caffeine headaches.
3. Use heat or ice packs
Hot and cold compresses can ease muscle tension headaches. When using cold packs, make sure there is a layer of cloth between your skin and the cold pack to avoid damaging the skin.
Cold can help decrease blood flow to the area of pain and block some pain receptors which can decrease headache pain. Apply for 10-15 minutes at a time. You can also use heat to get rid of your headache, being careful that it’s not burning the skin. The heat helps to relax muscles, improving blood flow.
4. Try relaxation techniques
If you have a muscle-tension headache, using a slow, methodic breathing technique can really help relax the muscles.
Start by finding a quiet place with a comfortable chair or other location where you will not be distracted. Next, take slow, rhythmic breaths, breathing in through your nose for five seconds then out of your mouth for five seconds.
You can also try a progressive relaxation technique by focusing on each major muscle group in your body. Start by visualizing your toes relaxing and work your way up to your head. As you relax, your muscle tightness should reduce.
For Long-Term Change:
5. Make sure you are getting enough sleep
Insufficient sleep is also a common cause of headaches. Try going to bed earlier or sleeping a little later to start adding in more sleep. Avoid any stimulants right before bed like caffeine, alcohol, or sugar, which can keep you awake or cause you to wake in the middle of the night for bathroom breaks.
Try a relaxing activity before bed. Avoid screen time, which stimulates the brain rather than relaxing it. Also remember, the standard “8 hours” is only an average. Most people need at least 7-9.
6. Exercise regularly
Exercise can reduce the chances of headaches by promoting better circulation, which can reduce the chances of a headache. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week for cardiovascular health.
7. Get a massage
If you can’t seem to kick the tension headache, massage therapy may be able to help. Massage therapists are trained to get deep into your muscle layers to relieve muscle tension. Give us a call to schedule a massage with one of our trained massage therapists.
8. Talk to a physical therapist
If you get regular or persistent headaches, physical therapy might be able to help you implement long-term changes by addressing the root causes, helping you to get rid of your headache. Physical therapy will also arm you with personalized strategies to prevent future headaches. If you think you might benefit from physical therapy, call us today for a free consultation!