T Nation

Neck/Shoulder Causing Headaches?

Hey everyone,
For about the last month I’ve been getting frequent headaches and also head pains that are short, stabbing type pains that occur all over my head (top, front, temple, back)…I’ve noticed that my left shoulder and neck area are tight (I think this where I carry my stress). I think this may be causing my headaches/head pains, but am not sure.

Are there any exercises/stretches I can do to alleviate the pain? Could the tension in those areas be causing my discomfort?

Thanks,
Dan

Have you heard of Trigger points? This is a good place to start:
http://www.triggerpoints.net/_sgt/m1_1.htm

or use search images for “trigger points” and the muscles of the neck. Once you have find the culprits, use fingers, thumb, knuckles or hard rubber ball against wall or floor to apply steady pressure to them for six seconds.

I hear ya, I get the same thing. Sitting at a desk all freakin’ day with my awful posture is really wreaking havoc on my body. I too carry all my stress in my neck and shoulders and it’s starting to bother me also.

I can pop my upper back just by sitting up straight, sticking out my chest and tightening my back. It’s pretty disturbing.

I really don’t have any answers for ya. But i’m going to keep a close eye on this thread and see what advice you get.

I had a similar headache problem all last week-- A 6-day upper back/neck tension headache aggravated by the crappy air quality and heat in NYC wreaking havoc on my asthma/allergies.

Massage made a HUGE difference. I see a guy who’s heavy into trigger points and deep tissue work. He got going on some areas under my shoulder blade and in my neck and I really thought I was going to throw up at one point, I was so breathless from the pain. Fortunately, I noticed an immediate and dramatic difference after my session and (with the help of my asthma meds) I’m feeling worlds better.

Perhaps something to try?

[quote]lshiloh wrote:
I had a similar headache problem all last week-- A 6-day upper back/neck tension headache aggravated by the crappy air quality and heat in NYC wreaking havoc on my asthma/allergies.

Massage made a HUGE difference. I see a guy who’s heavy into trigger points and deep tissue work. He got going on some areas under my shoulder blade and in my neck and I really thought I was going to throw up at one point, I was so breathless from the pain. Fortunately, I noticed an immediate and dramatic difference after my session and (with the help of my asthma meds) I’m feeling worlds better.

Perhaps something to try?[/quote]

I had a massage about a month and a half ago and the same thing as you…I nearly vomitted because of the pain. The knot in my shoulder was so large that the therapist didn’t have time to work out the entire thing…same deal with my neck. I need to get another one, as I do a lot of work on the computer and I know my posture isn’t the greatest (I am working on it and also doing stretches a few times a day).

I need to look into a therapist that specializes in neuromuscular therapy, though. My wife had neck/back issues a few years ago and saw a NMT and she hasn’t had a problem since. The therapist I saw the last time didn’t specialize in that area.

I think going up into the mountains also had an affect on me, too, as I went from 5,500 feet above sea level to near 11,000 feet on Sunday…ever since then my headahces/head pains have returned, just as they were finally clearing up last week.

It might help to stretch your legs as well. I sit most of the day and type, and I get headaches from tight hamstrings and calves even though I’m fairly flexible. I can actually feel the tightness moving up into my back and neck. I’ve found that stretching and walking in the evening helps loosen them up after sitting all day, and prevents the headaches from occurring.

Well I am not the expert at all, but I used Neandrathal No More (EC and Robertson) located at this site. It kicks ass and helped me a lot (I believe section four is where the workout starts). I have had rotator issues, sleeping problems, sore/stiff neck, etc. Sit down job ruins you over the years, man. Well all the sub-scap stuff, stretching pecs, ext rotation, work, chin tucks, band face pulls (love these), rows have done wonders. It will take a few weeks but amazing. I think I even look a lot better.

The posture work as well as growth in the rear delts and upper back are awesome. I have been through the workout already and plan to use a lot of what is in there through out my lifting career. I highly recommend starting there and remove any problems that may come from posture/strength imbalances. Other reasons I don’t know, sorry, but know the feeling.***Oh, last thing. Foam roller stretching (again, EC and MR) highly kick ass.

[quote]springbok wrote:
Well I am not the expert at all, but I used Neandrathal No More (EC and Robertson) located at this site. It kicks ass and helped me a lot (I believe section four is where the workout starts). I have had rotator issues, sleeping problems, sore/stiff neck, etc. Sit down job ruins you over the years, man. Well all the sub-scap stuff, stretching pecs, ext rotation, work, chin tucks, band face pulls (love these), rows have done wonders. It will take a few weeks but amazing. I think I even look a lot better.

The posture work as well as growth in the rear delts and upper back are awesome. I have been through the workout already and plan to use a lot of what is in there through out my lifting career. I highly recommend starting there and remove any problems that may come from posture/strength imbalances. Other reasons I don’t know, sorry, but know the feeling.***Oh, last thing. Foam roller stretching (again, EC and MR) highly kick ass.[/quote]

I’ll do a search and read up on that program, thanks.

[quote]springbok wrote:
Well I am not the expert at all, but I used Neandrathal No More (EC and Robertson) located at this site. It kicks ass and helped me a lot (I believe section four is where the workout starts). I have had rotator issues, sleeping problems, sore/stiff neck, etc. Sit down job ruins you over the years, man. Well all the sub-scap stuff, stretching pecs, ext rotation, work, chin tucks, band face pulls (love these), rows have done wonders. It will take a few weeks but amazing. I think I even look a lot better.

The posture work as well as growth in the rear delts and upper back are awesome. I have been through the workout already and plan to use a lot of what is in there through out my lifting career. I highly recommend starting there and remove any problems that may come from posture/strength imbalances. Other reasons I don’t know, sorry, but know the feeling.***Oh, last thing. Foam roller stretching (again, EC and MR) highly kick ass.[/quote]

I went through the archives last night and printed out the entire five-part series. Looks very detailed and hopefully will provide me with some answers as to my headaches/head pains.

Try to find a good chriopractor.

Pinching nerves in the upper neck will cause the headaches you describe.

Also pinching nerves in the mid spine will lock up the traps and the muscular tension will cut off the blood supply to the head. The lack of oxygen causes really bad headaches. I’ve had them.

Massage will release the muscles, but you need to work out why the muscles are locking up in the first place.

I go to a chiropractor every second week. The cervical spine gets really messed up from sitting all day, which I do. Since I have been going, my arm strength is noticably up, and I don’t have pain around the back / top of my skull at all.

The big problems seem to come from C1, the very top vertebrae.

(Also try to use the smallest pillow you can, or stop using one if you sleep on your back. Since I stopped using a pillow I don’t wake up with a stiff neck anymore)

Wolfpack,

I had these once. Try googling “exertion headache.” The only thing that worked for me was 3 or 4 weeks of ibuprofin, chiropractic and rock climbing.

For some reason the only excerise that didn’t bother me was climbing. I couldn’t even do crunches. So try to stick to pull-ups while you recover.

Maybe try PMing Dr.Ryan or something. If I recall it was the C4 vertebrae that was messed up.

BTW, (no offense Dr.Ryan) I consider chiropractic to be useless for everything except for situations like this.

[quote]beebuddy wrote:
Wolfpack,

I had these once. Try googling “exertion headache.” The only thing that worked for me was 3 or 4 weeks of ibuprofin, chiropractic and rock climbing.

For some reason the only excerise that didn’t bother me was climbing. I couldn’t even do crunches. So try to stick to pull-ups while you recover.

Maybe try PMing Dr.Ryan or something. If I recall it was the C4 vertebrae that was messed up.

BTW, (no offense Dr.Ryan) I consider chiropractic to be useless for everything except for situations like this.[/quote]

I don’t get the headaches/head pains when I’m exercising…they usually just come about at random points throughout the day.

[quote]Chris (NZ) wrote:
Try to find a good chriopractor.

Pinching nerves in the upper neck will cause the headaches you describe.

Also pinching nerves in the mid spine will lock up the traps and the muscular tension will cut off the blood supply to the head. The lack of oxygen causes really bad headaches. I’ve had them.

Massage will release the muscles, but you need to work out why the muscles are locking up in the first place.

I go to a chiropractor every second week. The cervical spine gets really messed up from sitting all day, which I do. Since I have been going, my arm strength is noticably up, and I don’t have pain around the back / top of my skull at all.

The big problems seem to come from C1, the very top vertebrae.

(Also try to use the smallest pillow you can, or stop using one if you sleep on your back. Since I stopped using a pillow I don’t wake up with a stiff neck anymore)[/quote]

I thought about seeing a chiropractor. I’m sure the fact that I have deviated septum isn’t helping things, either, as breathing through my nasal passages can be difficult at times…although I’m on Nasonex now and that seems to be helping a bit.

I do sleep with a rather flat pillow.

Thanks for the suggestions/advice.