You may have seen me recently on our Activate Physiotherapy and Activate Physiotherapy Stafford Facebook and Instagram pages talking about using exercise for the month of February to assist in improving the management of my headaches.
My headaches are mostly postural in nature meaning they come from the way I hold my head, neck, shoulders and (almost more importantly) my core, lower back and pelvis during the day. I don’t think there are many days I can come home at the end of the day without at least a dull throb in the back of my head. So – It was my birthday in February so what better present than to give myself the gift of 28 days of exercise to help rid myself of headaches.
And the best part is I’ve jotted the whole program down so you can try it for yourself.
PS. Remember you should always have a health professional assess the cause of your headaches because their causes can be varied but most of us can benefit from help strengthening our posture muscles.
Week 1 – Off to a Flying Start
I decided the mistake I continually make when trying to exercise is going in too gung-ho right from the beginning. I know I need to strengthen the muscles around my shoulders and neck but typically these exercises are the ones that end up leaving me with a bad headache. So for week 1, I decided to start from the bottom and work on my core and pelvic stability to provide a better base of support. I did throw in a few lower level neck exercises but ones I knew don’t usually stir me up. No headaches!
Week 2 – Making Progress
The end of week 1 was actually my birthday and I celebrated that I managed to get in my program every day last week. Week 2 was all about capitalising on the base of support I’d begun to build and starting to work my way up to the mid back and the muscles between the shoulders. Using gravity can be a great way to add some resistance without overdoing it so a lot of this week’s program is performed in “prone” – laying on the tummy or on the hands and knees. Even though I started working against gravity I haven’t had any headaches – good signs.
Week 3 – Working into Resistance
Following on from Week 2, week 3 was all about increasing resistance and my postural muscles tolerance to it. 2 weeks into a program is around about the time life starts getting in the way and we sometimes fall off the bandwagon so this week’s working into “resistance” is also about dealing with resistance in ourselves. Rather than fighting it work into it. Find creative ways to get your exercises in each day. I did have a few mild headaches this week and I put them down to sitting for too long doing a lot of computer work and managed them with a couple of sessions of physio.
Week 4 – Building the Habit
Lessons learned in week 3 really helped me focus on strategies for continuing my habit in week 4 and beyond. My key takeaway was YOU DON’T NEED TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE. What do I mean? I am a bit of an all or nothing person so for me if I couldn’t exercise for at least 30mins at one time, I wouldn’t bother at all. What I learned was to be ok with breaking this kind of program up through the day. Do a few beside the bed in the morning, do a few on the lounge room floor after dinner at night – DONE!
So far this month I’ve suffered fewer headaches and they’ve definitely been more manageable. I know consistency will be the key so keeping the exercises going and making sure I am looking after my posture at work and while sitting in general will be crucial for me (as well as having a session or 2 of physiotherapy when I need it).
My plan beyond week 4 is to get myself into some higher level strength exercises particularly to improve overhead activities like passing and shooting in netball – wish me luck!