Ibuprofen is a standard go-to for headaches and migraines, but it’s not always the best option. If you take ibuprofen regularly for headaches, you may be making them worse.
Overuse of pain relievers can lead to a rebound effect, meaning the pain comes back even stronger when you stop taking the medication.
You must talk to your doctor if you are experiencing frequent or severe migraines. They can help you identify the cause and develop a treatment plan.
In the meantime, instead of reaching for over-the-counter pain relievers, try stretching your muscles with these gentle exercises instead.
Why Yoga Stretches Help Headaches
In multiple studies, yoga therapy has been shown to be a safe and effective way to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.
Regular aerobic exercise is a well-known way to prevent and manage migraines. Exercise can stimulate the release of pain-relieving endorphins and help to regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, while also increasing blood flow and breathing, all of which can help to reduce tension and relieve headaches.
Unfortunately, exercise can cause or worsen headaches for some people. If you’re experiencing a migraine, you probably won’t want to go for a run or hit the gym.
This is why yoga stretches may be a better option. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise made of slow, gentle, mindful movements. It may also provide additional benefits like reducing stress and improving sleep. All of these factors can help to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Here are a few easy movements to try today:
Stand in a Superman pose—feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
Keep your lower body firmly planted, and twist your upper body.
Don’t force the movement. Just let your torso twist as far as it can comfortably go.
Slowly rotate your upper body in the other direction.
Breathe deeply as you twist back and forth at a gentle pace.
Sit or stand up straight, looking forward with your chin parallel to the ground.
Tilt your head gently, bringing your ear down toward your shoulder.
And repeat on the other side.
Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
Tilt your head forward to bring your chin down toward your chest.
And backward, pointing your chin up toward the ceiling.
Breathe fully and slowly as you roll around through these positions.
Let your body guide the movement. Don’t force it. Stretch out any areas that feel tense.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your legs and back straight.
Reach down toward your toes.
Don’t worry if you can’t reach them. The goal is to stretch out your back, thighs, and core muscles, not to touch your toes.
Hold this stretch for a few deep breaths, then return to standing.
You can also do this sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
Cobra Pose and Downward Dog
Start in a pushup position with your feet and hands on the floor, arms extended.
Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.
Instead of doing a pushup, keep your arms straight and slowly lower your hips and lower body to the floor.
Your upper body will be angled upwards, bending backward at the waist.
This is known as the cobra pose. Hold it for a few deep breaths.
Keep your hands and feet planted while you raise your hips upwards so that your but is sticking way up in the air.
Your upper body will now be pointing downward.
This is known as the downward dog pose.
Breathe fully and slowly as you flow smoothly back and forth between these poses.
With these and other yoga stretches, your headache may fade away.