Everyone experiences the soreness of muscle tension now and then. Sometimes the discomfort lasts only a short period of time and you barely notice it because it doesn’t interfere with your daily life. However, when the condition is severe or persistent, muscle tension can hinder your freedom and even cause regional or systemic pain such as a headache.
During the holidays, it can be easy to develop “knots” in your muscles either from a cold air draft chilling exposed muscles or from carrying tired children and heavy parcels after a long day of visiting family or shopping. Here I suggest some natural remedies that can help you prevent or mitigate headaches brought on by muscle tension.
What to do When Your Head is Aching Due to Muscle Tension
The most popular natural remedies that have been traditionally, anecdotally, or clinically been effective for preventing and/or mitigating headaches that are caused by muscle tension are:
- Anti-Spasmodic Herbs: Help to resolve and prevent muscle spasms, especially in smooth and cardiac muscles; help improve vascular tone and prevent spastic and unregulated vasoconstriction and/or vasodilation.
- Magnesium: Reduces neuromuscular tension; relaxes the nervous system; helps to balance the stimulating effects of calcium.
- Potassium: Restores electrolyte balance and supports healthy neuromuscular communication and function; helps to resolve cramping caused by excess calcium build up; helps to release lactic acid from muscle tissue.
- Vitamin D: Supports muscle health and function; helps to prevent tension build up in muscles; facilitates proper use of calcium; helps promote healthy circulation to the muscles; useful as part of a nutritional protocol to help prevent frequency and intensity of headaches.
- Coenzyme Q10: Also known as ubiquinone; supports healthy cell metabolism and oxygenation; supports healthy circulation to the muscle cells; useful as part of a nutritional protocol to help prevent frequency and intensity of headaches.
- Essential Fatty Acids (and other Polyunsaturated Fats): Especially omega-3 fats; help to prevent unregulated or chronic inflammatory reactions to muscle injury or tension; promote proper tissue healing; help to prevent long-term or deeply seated damage to strained muscles; useful for preventing headaches caused by muscle tension; help alleviate incipient and established headaches albeit relief isn’t generally instantaneous.
- Cardiovascular & Weight Bearing Exercises: Improve systemic circulation and support cardiovascular health; increase tissue oxygenation; strengthen muscles, ligaments, tendons, and neuromuscular activity; help to prevent headaches caused or exacerbated by muscle tension; not ideal for relieving incipient or established headaches.
- Traditional Arts: Use meditation and/or gentle fluid movements to encourage whole body relaxation, relieve muscle tension, improve circulation of blood and lymph and improve cell oxygenation; strengthen the endocrine, nervous, digestive, musculoskeletal, and immune systems; promote systemic detoxification; useful for helping to prevent headaches and to resolve incipient and established headaches, including intractable episodes.
- Deep Breathing: Oxygenates, nourishes, and relaxes every part of the body; helps to resolve spastic and unregulated vasoconstriction; useful for helping to prevent headaches and to resolve incipient and established headaches, including intractable episodes.
- Massage: When your head is pounding, the last thing that’s likely to be on your mind is getting a deep tissue massage. However, a massage can work wonders for releasing tension and releasing stress built up in “knotted” muscles, so this is a good option for preventing a headache. If your headache is mild enough, you might even consider getting a gentle massage (or massaging yourself) to mollify your muscles. Warm massage oils infused with essential oils are an excellent antidote to muscle soreness and tension. Muscle salves formulated specifically for alleviating muscle stiffness are also very effective.
- Acupuncture &/or Marma: Can be effective for releasing muscle tension and improving muscle tone; improve circulation and overall cardiovascular health; can help to prevent headaches caused by muscle tension.
In the next blog post, I suggest how to address headaches associated with high blood pressure. If your headache is stress-induced, read this blog article.