First thing in the morning and at the end of a long day, many people suffer from a sore back or tight shoulders. These can lead to tension headaches. Fortunately, you can alleviate the problem with some simple, gentle stretching exercises.
If you find yourself getting headaches, try the following stretches when you wake up and during breaks at work:
Stretching your shoulders can feel great, especially if you spend long hours hunched over a computer. It can also improve your posture. These stretches are especially effective:
- Posterior shoulder stretch. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can, so that your left fingertips can reach your upper back. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat for the right shoulder.
- Anterior shoulder stretch. Stand up straight with your shoulders relaxed and back. Clasp your hands behind your lower back. Lift your clasped hands away from your body, keeping your elbows straight. Stop lifting at the point where you no longer feel comfortable. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Shoulder rolls. Roll your shoulders down and back, starting with small circles and working up to larger circles. Do 10 circles backwards; then repeat with forward circles.
- Arm circles. With one arm at a time, make a backwards arm circle with your palm facing out and thumb pointed up. Repeat this motion 15 times with each arm.
Day to day activities can often make your back muscles tight. Over time, this can result in significant back pain as well as headaches. The following exercises will help stretch the major muscles in this area.
- Standing stretch. Contract your abs as you tip forward from the hips, bringing your hands down to the floor. Relax with your head down and reach with your fingertips to stretch your back. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Push-up stretch. Lie flat on your stomach and push up with both arms, so you're bending backwards. Straighten your arms and hold this position for 15 seconds.
- Pose of the child. Sit on your feet with your heels pointing outward. Your knees should be separated, about the width of your hips. Place your forehead on the floor and swing your arms forward. Then bring your arms around to your sides, palms facing upward. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
Headaches can have many causes, of course. If these stretches don't relieve your headaches, consult a doctor. In many cases, though, simple exercises like these can provide extraordinary results.