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3 Easy Stretches to Get Rid of Headaches

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

In today’s post, I want to talk to you a little bit about headaches. I’m sure all of you have had a headache in the past that you were about to get rid of with medication or resting, which is what most people do. Most people don’t realize that headaches can be treated through physical therapy. These types of headaches are called cervicogenic headaches. What this means is that the headache is originating from your neck causing pain in your head. These types of headaches are typically one-sided extending from the base of your neck to the top of your head. These headaches often have associated neck pain and can be worsened with movements of your neck in different directions.

In physical therapy, some of the things we can treat to help alleviate cervicogenic headaches include things like tightness in your neck muscles, decreased motion in your neck or cervical joints, or decreased strength in either your neck or upper back muscles. More often than not, the headaches are caused by a combination of all three of these things.

There are three key muscles that are typically involved in these types of headaches. I am going to talk through each muscle and an associated stretch for you to try at home that could help relieve your pain. The three muscles we are going to talk about specifically are the upper trap, levator scapulae, and sternocleidomastoid. Follow along with the directions below to stretch each of these muscles OR check out the video linked below in this post for those of you that prefer a visual demonstration.

Upper Trapezius Stretch

  1. For right-side neck pain, sit on your right hand to keep your shoulder down.

  2. Tilt your head to the left.

  3. Use your left hand to pull your head towards the left.

Levator Scapulae Stretch

  1. For right-side neck pain, rotate your head to the left.

  2. Tilt your nose down toward your left armpit.

  3. Use your left hand to pull your head downwards in that diagonal angle.

Sternocleidomastoid Stretch

  1. For right-side neck pain, look up slightly.

  2. Side bend your head to the left.

  3. Rotate your head up toward the ceiling, or to the right.

With all of these stretches, they are going to be uncomfortable and you are going to feel a good “pull.” If they become painful then back off a little bit with your pressure. Hold each of these stretches for 30 seconds and complete them 3 times each.

Still having neck pain after trying these stretches? Check out one of our other posts here to learn more about targeting the thoracic spine - which may be a contributing factor to your neck pain!


If you have questions or are interested in learning more, reach out to us and we would love to partner with you on your journey to getting rid of headaches. Call CustomFit Concierge at 312-619-3556. Learn more about Annie here!

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