Cervicogenic headaches are caused by problems in the muscles, ligaments, blood vessels and bones of the neck that create pain and discomfort at the base of the skull and head. These headaches are difficult to diagnose; usually other types of headaches have to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. Effective exercises for this type of headache include stretches and strengthening exercises.
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Flexion and Extension
To help ease your headache, begin by stretching the muscles that flex your neck by bringing your chin to your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds. Do an extension by looking up at the ceiling to stretch the muscles on the front of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds.
To strengthen these muscles, place your hand on your forehead, and push your head foreword against your hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Place your hand on the back of your head, and push your head back by looking upward. Hold for 10 seconds. Don't strain when doing these exercises; use about 10 percent of your strength.
To stretch the muscles on the side of your neck, try to bring your right ear to your right shoulder while keeping your shoulder still; do not bring it up to your ear. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left side. To strengthen the muscles on the side of your neck, place your hand on your right temple and, using your hand for resistance, try to bend your head to the right. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the left side.
To stretch the muscles of your neck that are responsible for rotation, turn your head and try to look over your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left side. To To vary this exercise, place your right hand on the right temporal area. Using your right hand for resistance, try to look over your right shoulder. Hold for 10 second, and repeat with the left side.
Many people get relief from cervicogenic headaches by icing the muscles of their neck. Lie on your back with your neck over a rolled up hand towel with an ice pack inside of it. Your chin should be slightly tilted toward the ceiling. Relax on the ice for 20 minutes.