Tension Headaches: Remedy For Tension Headaches

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Tension Headache Exercises: Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

Do you have a headache that feels like a band of pain around your forehead, sides or back of your head?


Is your headache aggravated by poor posture or stress?


You likely have tension headaches if you answered yes to the questions above.  In this issue of Bodi Empowerment I will give you advice on ways to decrease your tension headaches from some of the more common causes and then show you a few exercises to help your tension headaches.


Tension headaches cause tightness of your muscles, either at the back of your head, side of your head or your forehead. You likely have poor posture,  stress or both like a lot of the patients I see for headaches here in our downtown Toronto sports medicine clinic.


Exercise and Not Enough Water


Sometimes you can trigger tension headaches  by exercising too hard, or not drinking enough water, but you can remedy your tension headache quite easily. Just drink water or for a quicker fix try Gatorade.


For a more natural alternative that gives you a slower blood sugar spike try coconut water. Don’t mix this up with coconut milk which isn’t nice to drink. Like anything good too much coconut water is not a good idea. The high potassium content is great but you can overdo it and even cause irregular heart beats, if you drink too much.


See Also: 5 Remedies For Headache Pains


Tension Headaches Caffeine & Not Enough Sleep


Too much caffeine can give you headaches, but it is mostly too little caffeine that is the cause for most people. If you feel you can’t function without your java fix or crave your afternoon tea than chances are you are addicted to caffeine. If you skip a day by accident or try quitting one day you will give yourself a withdrawal headache which feels like a tension headache.


Try gradually going off your addiction over many months. Then switch to tea then to nothing at all.


See Also: 5 Best Exercises For Your Stiff Neck


Caffeine stays in your system for 12 hours or more, so if you are the sensitive type drinking afternoon tea or coffee might affect your sleep. Make sure you stop 12 hours before your bedtime.


Lack of sleep can give you a tension headaches, however it is a broad subject so if you want a more comprehensive report, just type your email into the form on the right (below my picture) to get the Sleep Better Report.


Exercises For Tension Headaches

#1 Flexion For Tension Headaches


Flexion Exercises For the Tension Headaches: Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Clasp both hands behind your head as in the picture above.
  • Let the weight of your arms pull your neck down – feel the stretch. For some people you can pull but for most people just let the weight of your arms pull your neck forward until you feel a good stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Do it 3 times in one go.
  • You should do the exercise several times a day.


#2 Trap stretch For Tension Headaches

Headache Pain Exercise #5 Trapezius Stretch

That’s one of the muscles that is raises your shoulder. To stretch this muscle follow these steps.


  • Let one shoulder relax and drop.
  • Bend your neck sideways away from the shoulder that is relaxed.
  • Put your left hand (for this picture) on your head and let the weight of your arm pull your head down.
  • You should hold for 30 seconds or more for 3 sets. Do this exercise several times a day.


#3 Levator Stretch For Tension Headaches


  • Do the trapezius stretch.
  • Gradually turn your chin toward the opposite shoulder while holding that stretched feeling.
  • You should feel it on the same side you felt the trapezius stretch, but more in the neck area.
  • Do 3 sets for 30 seconds on both sides.


#4 Neck Rotation For Tension Headaches

Cervical Spine Pain Exercise:Rotation -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Turn your head as far right as you can go. Now turn your head as far left as you can go
  • If you get pain continue on the side of pain. Yes rotate your head into the pain. Not hard. Just a little bit into the pain
  • This decreases the tension in your neck to help your tension headaache.
  • If the pain increases switch sides and continue only on that side.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.



Dr Ken Nakamura

11 Responses to Tension Headaches: Remedy For Tension Headaches
  • Abay says:
    July 10, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Hello Dr.Ken,
    I have a severe headache that comes once in 1&1/2 ~ 2 month, its source is at the base of my neck, closer to my left shoulder, there is a stiff part there. And whenever the headache starts it goes from this point all the way up to the left side of my brain just above my ear. A physiotherapist has told me that the headache is due to the stiffness in my neck and when not enough oxygen reaches my brain. He recommended a basic stretch of hand (stretching my left hand straight to my right side & locking it with my right hand). What exercises do you recommend?
    Thank you!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 11, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks for your question Abay. If the problem is coming from your neck the exercises here in the article may help. The comment about not enough oxygen to the brain would indicate a different problem. Usually not enough oxygen is related to heart, lung, blood clotting, bleeding, blood pressure problems. Lack of oxygen causing headaches and neck related headaches are usually very different and unrelated problems. Perhaps you misunderstood. You should definitely get a second opinion from your medical doctor. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your tension headaches.

  • Alex says:
    March 5, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Hello Dr. Ken its me again, just want to tell you everything just for a reminder of what i am going through, because i know you deal with lots of cases and clients. Since September 2015 I’ve had neck stiffness/shoulder/upper back type of pain only on the left side and i also was feeling tightness around the left side of my head back of my ear and around my temples things just felt off, i didn’t feel none of this in my right side i felt really free on the right side. i thought i had a brain tumor but last month i went to see a nerve specialist and he didn’t think it was a brain tumor but instead it could be all caused by the jaw movement, as he was telling me to open and close he told me the left side is kind of locked up….and i saw the above reply you showed me, i did some of that an some other jaw exercises i found on youtube none of them are really consistent, well not for me. I just wanted to ask you do you think my jaw problem will ever go away? and another question i have for you is do you treat tmj? and if so is there any way i can book an appointment at your office… hope to hear back from you soon thank you sir.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 6, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks for your question Alex. Here is the link if you need to make an appointment. https://www.bodiempowerment.com/contact/book-an-appointment/
      Jaw problems can be due to many causes. One of them is trauma, bruxing (grinding teeth) which many people do as a result of stress and bite problems, to name a few. Without knowing the cause to your problem I cannot tell you if your pain will ever go away. A proper diagnosis must be made first and the cause ascertained.

      Hope that helps your Jaw Problem.

  • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
    January 4, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Thanks for your question Alex. You can get an MRI or CT scan in Buffalo, USA if you pay for it. Having said that it sounds like the problem is either in your jaw or your neck and not a tumor in your brain. You should get your neck and or jaw treated conservatively. Having said that I haven’t examined you. From what you have told me though it doesn’t sound like a brain tumour. You don’t mention anything about headaches or throbbing. Sounds like typical jaw or neck pain. Is there anything your’re not telling me?

    Hope that helps your jaw pain and neck pain.

    • Alex says:
      January 6, 2016 at 3:10 am

      yeah thanks for your reply doctor Ken.. everyday i woke up I’ve been getting this kind of tension in the neck/jaw/head 24/7 for 3 months i can feel something is wrong. i don’t feel a headache like i never get symptoms like nausea or anything like that but i get this kinda numbness in the left side of my head. all of the jaw and neck stiffness and kinda head numbness are all on my left side of my head idk what it is…is there any other places i can go to get a scan? like hospital, neurologist, doctor, or do you know anybody in the Toronto area? and i also wanted to ask you can you figure out if somebody has a brain tumor through a blood test? because the medical clinic i attend tested me and i am fine except that i have high blood pressure….i asked them if i can get a reference to get a scan for my head and they were denying saying i didn’t need one i don’t know what to do doctor…

      • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
        January 6, 2016 at 9:21 am

        Thanks for your question Alex. It sounds like you really want a scan or imaging of some type. There are lots of MRI’s and CAT scans in Toronto but a medical doctor has to refer you. That is the only way in Canada. The only alternative is to pay for it in Buffalo. I cannot refer you for an MRI or CAT scan.

        It’s possible you actually need a scan but I haven’t examined you, and I couldn’t send you anyways.

        There is no blood test that will diagnose a brain tumour.

        Why don’t you go to another medical doctor as they are the only ones that can send you for an MRI.

        Hope that helps Alex.

        • Alex says:
          January 23, 2016 at 5:30 am

          Alright Doctor, sorry for late reply i am getting an MRI scan in a week, i got to see a nerve specialist and he couldn’t even find out but he did say i have a clicking/tensed up jaw on the left side every time i open my mouth i can feel a twist. Do you know of any ways i stop this its been going on for 5 months now like like jaw tightness…

  • Xiangdong Chen says:
    August 21, 2015 at 4:14 am

    Doctor Ken
    I am your patient Xiangdong Chen , I wanna ask is swimming good for my condition in my case ?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      August 23, 2015 at 5:55 am

      Thanks for your question Chen. Swimming should be fine and helpful for your condition.

      Hope that helps Chen.

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