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  • Writer's pictureSam Kelokates

Simple Neck Exercise Program for Headache Relief

Are you tired of enduring the neck discomfort of tension-type headache, migraine, and cervicogenic headache?


If you frequently experience mild to moderate intensity headaches and are looking for a natural and effective solution, we have just the right program for you.


This blog post presents a simple neck exercise program progression that aims to address neck pain associated with several headache disorders.


The exercises included in this program are designed to improve neck muscle endurance and mobility, which are often limited in many types of headache disorders.


So, let's dive in and discover the steps towards headache relief.


Phase 1: Isometric Exercise


The first phase of this neck exercise program focuses on isometric exercises. These exercises involve static muscle contractions that help strengthen the neck muscles and improve their endurance.


All exercises are performed in the seated position. With isometric exercises there is no movement. At the bottom this blog will be a video of the program progression.


  1. Chin Tuck Holds: Begin by sitting in a neutral position. Place a closed fist below your chin. Then gently push your chin downward against your fist, without tilting your head.

  2. Neck Rotation Holds: Start with your head in a neutral position. The place one hand against the cheek bone. Attempt to rotate your head to one side against manual resistance from your hand. Trying to turn your head to your shoulder without tilting or turning your head. Perform rotation to the right. The rotation to the left.

  3. Neck Extension with Chin Tuck: While keeping your spine in a neutral position, place both hands around the base of the head. Gently extend your neck backward into your hands, and simultaneously perform a chin tuck. Do not let your head tilt back.

Hold these position for 3-5 seconds, using 30-50% effort, and repeat for 5 reps. Increase the number of reps to 10 after one week, and then to 15 reps after two weeks.


Perform these isometric exercises three times a week for three weeks to establish a solid foundation.



Phase 2: Active Movement


Once you have progressed through the initial phase and built some strength and endurance, it's time to move on to active range of motion movements that involve controlled motion.

  1. Neck Flexion with Chin Tuck: Begin by laying on your back in a neutral position. Initiate the exercise by performing a chin tuck, and then slowly flex your neck forward, bringing your chin towards your chest.

  2. Lateral Head Lifts: Begin by laying on your side. Keep your head in a neutral position (you may have to place your hand or small pillow below your head) and slowly lift one ear towards the corresponding shoulder, avoiding any shrugging or lifting of the shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Once you complete one side, roll over to perform the other.

  3. Neck Extension with Chin Tuck: Start by laying on your stomach, have your forehead resting on the back of your hands. Then initiate the movement by performing a chin tuck, gently extend your neck backward.

Repeat each movement for 5 reps and gradually increase the number of reps to 10 after one week, and then to 15 reps after two weeks.


Continue performing these active movements three times a week for three weeks to enhance your progress towards headache relief.


Phase 3: Dynamic Neck Movements


As you advance through the program, it's time to introduce dynamic neck movements that involve a combination of different motions.

  1. Head Lift with Rotation: Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your head off the ground, just like the Neck Flexion with Chin Tuck exercise, and rotate side-to-side. Maintain chin tuck throughout the rotation.

  2. Lateral Flexion & Rotation: Laying on your side, your head resting on the table/floor, slowly tilt your head upward, bringing your ear towards the shoulder. From this position, rotate your head towards the opposite shoulder. Perform all repetitions on one side, and repeat on the other side.

  3. Neck Extension with Look Over Shoulder: Start by laying on your stomach, have your forehead resting on the back of your hands. Gently extend your neck backward and rotate it to one side, looking over your shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Perform 5 reps on each side, gradually increasing to 10 reps after one week, and then to 15 reps two weeks.


Conclusion:


Consistency is key when it comes to achieving relief from tension-type and cervicogenic headaches. By following this simple neck exercise program, you can gradually improve your neck muscle endurance and mobility, leading to a reduction in headache frequency and intensity.


Remember to progress through the phases at your own pace and listen to your body's limits. If your headaches persist or worsen, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation. Say goodbye to tension headaches and welcome a more comfortable and headache-free life!


Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personalized guidance and recommendations.


About Me:


Hi, my name is Sam Kelokates, PT, DPT. I am a licensed physical therapist and owner of Kelos Physical Therapy, located in Philadelphia, PA. I specialize in the non-pharmacological management of headache and migraine disorders.

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