5 Stretches For Stress Headaches When All The Tension Is Knotted Up In Your Neck

by Georgina Berbari

You know the feeling when you forget you have your sunglasses on top of your head for such a long time that it literally gives you a splitting headache? What's even worse than that is when you don't have any sunglasses chillin' on your head, but you get that torturous feeling anyway, with no warning or apparent cause. The next time your head starts pounding out of nowhere, you don't have to retreat to your bed and lie in agony. These stretches for stress headaches will help you feel better in no time.

According to Mayo Clinic, a tension headache is the kind that basically feels like someone strapped a really tight band around your head. The dull, mild pain lingers around your temples, and it can be extremely difficult to shake off. While these stress headaches are common, it's still not fully understood what exactly causes them to happen.

However, some headaches are the result of bad posture and excessive sitting, a combination that can cause the muscles and joints around the top of your neck to become uncomfortably tight and stiff.

You don't have to suffer in silence or always reduce to popping ibuprofen, though. Reducing stress through things like breathing practices, meditation, and simple neck and shoulder stretches will do wonders to reduce the pain of your headaches and relieve any persistent, lingering pains.

Here are five simple stretches that will feel as blissful as taking those forgotten sunglasses off your head.

Behind-The-Back Stretch

There are few better feelings in this world than when you open up your chest during a juicy behind-the-back stretch, and you feel (and hear) a couple of cracks in your upper back. Major turn-on, amirite?

In addition to opening up your upper body, the behind-the-back stretch can also stop tension headaches right in their tracks. You can perform this stretch standing up, or sitting down in a chair that comes halfway up your back. Either way, make sure to take it slow, and never stretch past your shoulders' natural limitations.

Chin Tuck Stretch
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This subtle stretch is super easy, and you can totally do it on the DL at work to help release a tight neck and get rid of oncoming tension headaches.

Make sure to breathe mindfully and deeply while you're performing this stretch, and really notice each sensation that it brings to the back of your neck. Close your eyes, and pay attention to the pressure drifting away.

Cervical Extensor Stretch

"Cervical extensor stretch" sounds fancy AF, but honestly, it just means a super juicy stretch in the sides of your neck.

Apply very light pressure with your hand to the side of your head here — less is definitely more. You'll feel this stretch radiating all the way down your shoulders, and maybe even down further to your fingertips. This bad boy will work to stretch the muscles at the base of your skull, another area where we often hold tension from stress.

Neck Rotations
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Rotating your neck in a circular motion may seem simple as hell, but the little things go such a long way in making a stress headache GTFO for good.

Take these rotations slow, and notice how each roll gives you a different sensation in your head and neck.

Repeat as many times as you need to feel your pain melt away.

Shoulder Rolls
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Finish off your stretching sequence with some satisfying shoulder rolls.

Bring your shoulders all the way up to your ears, then slowly release them, and allow your entire upper body to loosen up and shed any lingering tension you may still be holding onto.

This bad boy will basically be as close as you can get to enjoying a deep-tissue massage at work, unless you have a work BFF who wants to help a homie out on her lunch break.