Do you suffer from frequent headaches and achieve only minimal relief from pain medications?

There are five easy exercises that you should try. These exercises stretch and loosen muscles that often become tense, stiff, and contribute to neck and head pain.

Try each of them at least twice a day–in the morning and in the evening before bedtime. If you have an opportunity, you may also find it helpful to perform them a third time during late the morning or early afternoon. The areas impacted by these exercises are the neck, shoulder, and abdomen, in addition to cranial muscles that encase the skull.

When you first begin to perform these exercises, it is very important to remember to go slowly and not over-extend yourself. It is normal to experience stretching sensations in your neck, shoulders and abdominal muscles while doing these exercises. However, if you notice any sharp pains or other discomforts that seem abnormal, stop doing the exercise immediately. If the pain continues or recurs, consult your doctor.

These movements focus on muscles that most people do not regularly stretch or exercise, and they can be easily injured by stretching too far too fast.

Here are 5 easy exercises that will help relieve your headache:

1. Chin Tuck and Stretch

While standing or sitting in an upright position, gently place one hand on the back side of your head. Place the other hand on your chin.

Begin to slowly push your head forward using the hand behind your head. At the same time, use the hand on your chin to guide your chin down toward your chest.

Go slowly and stop immediately if you experience pain. Once your chin has reached your chest (or is as close to your chest as you can get without causing pain), hold your head in that position for 30 seconds. Slowly return your head to an upright position.

Repeat this action 2-4 more times.

2. Downward Side Head Tilt

While standing or sitting in an upright position, slowly turn your head to the left until you can see your left shoulder. Place your right hand behind your head at the base of your skull. Use your right hand to carefully push your head forward and down until you can feel a stretch in the muscles at the base of your head.

Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction, tilting your head to the right and using your left hand to push your head down. Hold again for 10 seconds.

Repeat these movements 3-5 times on each side.

3. Cervical Side Stretch

Position yourself in an upright, seated position so that you are sitting on your right hand. Sitting on your hand is important because it will stabilize your body while performing the exercise. If for any reason you cannot sit on your hand, use your right hand to grab the underside of your chair.

Bring your left hand over and around your head and firmly place your hand over your right ear. Slowly and carefully pull your head down to the left. Once you feel a stretch in the right side of your neck and upper right portion of your shoulder, hold the position for 30 seconds.

Repeat this movement 3 times on each side.

4. Pectoral Stretch

This is the only one of these exercises that does not focus on the head, neck, and shoulders. Many people find themselves sitting in a forward-bent position during the day, particularly if performing working on a computer. This can cause the muscles around the stomach and rib cage to tighten and create upper-body tension. Such tension can strain the upper back and neck muscles, leading to headaches and neck pain.

Stand straight with your back against a wall. With your elbows straight, raise both arms until they extend at a 90-degree angle (parallel to the floor). Without moving your arms, turn the palms of both hands up until they are pointing at the ceiling. Make sure your back is still straight and in contact with the wall.

Hold the position for 30 seconds while taking slow, deep breaths. You should feel a stretch in your abdomen and shoulders.

Repeat the movement 3 times.

5. Shoulder Roll

Stand straight or sit in an upright position. Slowly roll both shoulders forward, upward and then back to their original position.

Repeat this motion 10 times. This exercise will help loosen your shoulders, as well as muscles you have stretched in other body parts.

As you become more accustomed to these exercises, you may want to add additional stretching or yoga movements. There are many movements and stretches that can loosen and soothe muscles in the neck and head area.

Alice Bell