Headaches caused by the stresses of modern living are a problem for many of us. A recent study by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) confirms what most of us knew already – that increased stress leads to more tension headaches and migraine.
Thankfully a study by Wiley-Blackman, published on the Science Daily website demonstrates that the right type of exercise can be hugely beneficial in alleviating stress and the symptoms of headache.
The Relationship between Stress and Headache
The AAN study, authored by Sara H. Schramm, MD, into the relationship between increased stress and the number and frequency of headaches experienced ran over a two-year period and involved 5,159 participants, picked from the general population, aged between 21 and 71.
Participants, grouped by the type of headache they suffered from, (tension, migraine, migraine/tension and general headaches, not classified in the other three groups), took regular surveys designed to correlate their stress levels with the number, type and severity of the headaches they were experiencing.
Each group was asked to rate their stress levels by awarding points out of 100. The study confirmed that, (after adjustment of findings to allow for influencing factors such as use of medications for headache, drinking and smoking, etc.), an increase in the stress levels experienced resulted in an increase in the number of headache days experienced each month.
How Exercise Can Help
The study done by Wiley-Blackman, describes an exercise program that actually decreased the frequency of headache episodes and improved the quality of life for participants.
The program participants were all migraine sufferers and the exercise they did focused on indoor cycling to enable continuous aerobic exercise designed to improve oxygen uptake without exacerbating their migraine symptoms.
All participants were examined, before and after each period of exercise and the findings were conclusive:
- No participant experienced any worsening of their symptoms
- All participants experienced a significant increase in their maximum oxygen uptake
- By the end of the study the number, duration and intensity of migraine attacks had all decreased
- The amount of pain medication used by participants had also decreased
So What Does This Mean For You?
While we may not be able to eliminate the causes of stress in our lives, there are positive things we can do to manage their effects. To prevent occasional stress-related headaches from escalating into a chronic problem that can be debilitating, resulting in lost working days and disruption to family life, take action now!
In our clinic we see many patients suffering from headache and migraine symptoms. Stress can cause tension in the shoulders, neck, jaw, – even the muscles in the scalp – all of which can lead to headache pain. By treating the physical cause of your pain and advising on strategies including diet, exercise, posture and ergonomics we take a holistic approach to your symptoms.
If you have been finding that headaches are becoming more frequent, even if you are not conscious of feeling more stressed than usual, rather than treating the immediate symptoms with painkillers, take the first step to address the problem before it becomes chronic; Call Bradford House Chiropractic Clinic on 01962 861188 today.