Why Tight Neck Muscles Are Causing Migraines
Have you ever done the stereotypical grab of your neck and wince your eyes because it feels sore and stiff? Well chances are you probably have done this multiple times. For most of us, it's due to computer related work or from looking down at our phones for long periods of time.
While we might be able to get a massage from our partner to soften the muscle, unfortunately this is no the case for everyone. Stiff and sore neck muscle can be a migraine trigger. If you've ever experience a migraine, it is not a pleasant experience and the symptoms can last hours or even up to days.
For those that have never experience a migraine, think of a headache, add in fire works, and more pain. Ok, it might not be that bad but it isn't a picnic. Some of the most common symptoms of a migraine are: disrupted vision, increased pressure, spinning feeling, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, pain, nausea, or muscle tightness.
Every migraine is different and the symptoms and severity with change between each person. One of the things you don't want to do is let your migraines continue long term because there are so many things that can be done to reduce or even eliminate them.
The most effective treatments are seen with in clinic treatments but there are some things that can be done at home to help.
So what does neck stiffness have to do with migraines?
Surprisingly, the neck has a lot to do with migraines and headaches. I've seen it more times than I can count how the small muscles at the back on the neck pull on the head muscles causing headaches. This can be do to a previous motor vehicle accident, sports injury or even poor posture. It doesn't take much to shift the vertebrae or cause your muscle to go on lock down.
So What Are Some Simple Things You Can Do At Home?
There are a lot of things that can be done at home but if there is a history of neck pain or issues, check in with your doctor to ensure these tips are safe for your neck.
1- Hot and cold compress. Muscle relax when exposed to heat, vessels dilate bring oxygen and nutrients to the area, and increases blood flow. A cold compress helps to reduce inflammation, constrict vessels and flush out excess fluid. This combo is amazing for stiff muscles. 3 minutes hot to 1 minute cold is a good place to start.
2- Neck stretching. One of the most under rated things that can provide a world of relief. Stretch your neck muscles out. Two of my favourite stretches are the scalene stretch and the neck flexion stretch.
Scalene Stretch- put your hands behind your back and clasp them (if you can). Push your shoulder down and tilt your head to your chest, and then extend your head backwards. Find the nice stretch (should not hurt).
Seated Neck Flexion- In a seated position, place one hand palm down under your butt. Take your other hand a gently pull your ear towards your shoulder/pec muscle. Do this both sides. Gentle is good. You should feel a nice stretch.
3- Foam Rolling. If you happen to have a foam roller, this is a great way to reduce muscle tension in the back. With this, a little goes along way. Don't over due it by rolling for 20 minutes. A quick session is all that is needed. When foam rolling, focus on the middle of the back up to the shoulders. Don't try to foam roll your neck.
4- Magnesium. Something everyone should have in their cupboard for muscle relief. Magnesium is the muscle relaxing magician. Tight muscle loves magnesium and it does a great job to soften the aggressive tension seen in those muscles. The type of magnesium here is important. Absorption has been seen to be better with the bisglycinate form.
Things small tips will help to reduce your migraines but if they become a chronic issue, its best to talk to your doctor to learn about what else might be able to help. There are many options from prescription medication, Botox, spinal adjustments, acupuncture, or massage. All are great options and everyone will respond differently to each treatment. Find one that works for you and start living migraine free.