Strength training might help prevent tension headaches, or at least reduce their pain. Researchers found that neck and shoulder muscles were up to 26 per cent weaker in people with regular tension headaches, compared with those without. They also saw strength imbalances between sets of muscles that hold the head straight.
People with tension-type headaches may feel like they have a tight band wrapped around their head but with less pain than is felt from cluster headaches or migraines, which tend to strike one side of the head. Cluster headaches are often accompanied by sinus congestion or runny nose, while migraines cause throbbing, moderate-to-severe pain and sometimes nausea and/or vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
The healthy people in the study had 26 per cent stronger neck extension (looking up) than those with tension-type headaches, but there was only a slight difference between groups in neck flexor (looking down) strength. As a result, the ratio of extension and flexion strength was 12 per cent larger in the healthy comparison group.
Past studies have also shown that forward-leaning head posture and weaker neck extension might be contributing to tension headaches.
The use of computers, laptops and tablets has increased in recent years, and this may increase the time sitting with a forward head posture.
Along with watching your posture, neck, shoulder and upper back exercises are key to strengthening your back muscles.
If you are unsure about what exercise is best for you, be sure to ask us.