I have been suffering from headaches since I was a young girl. During my annual checkup, I asked the doctor every year what I could do for them. "Not much," he replied. - Try some aspirin. As adults, doctors continue to give me the same advice. I was given a prescription migraine medication a few years ago; it knocked out my headache, but also me - for the rest of the day.
What I really wanted were suggestions on how to stop my headaches before I reach the point where medicine is needed. I noticed that I was more prone to developing headaches on days when I was stressed, when I didn’t eat enough all day when I drank red wine, and how weird it was when it rained. Were these clues to prevent headaches?
Dr. David Buchholz, a neurologist, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Responsibility for Pain, urges just this kind of preventative approach to treating headaches. I recently spoke with Dr. Buchholz about the causes of headaches and how yoga and other healthy lifestyles can help people avoid and relieve headache anxiety. He was the first doctor whose advice on headaches made intuitive sense to me.
Headaches occur when we are exposed to factors such as stress, hormone fluctuations, sleep disturbances, weather changes, and certain medications.
I can usually tell when a headache occurs: my shoulders and neck start to tense and tense. Therefore, I have always assumed that tight muscles cause headaches. Not so, says Dr. Buchholz. This swelling and contraction of the blood vessels in the face and neck causes headaches.
Unlike many doctors who differentiate between stress, tension, and migraine headaches, Dr. Buchholz sees headaches as a continuum of pain, with migraines being the most extreme. According to him, what is generally considered a tension or stress headache is simply a less extreme version of the same disease.
Headaches, regardless of the level of intensity, are caused when we are exposed to triggers such as stress, hormone fluctuations, sleep disturbances, changes in weather (especially air pressure), and certain medications, especially birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. . Our diet, sleep schedule, and for women, our monthly menstrual cycle all contribute to our headaches on the “load” of that day. Some of us have a lower trigger load threshold than others, and those who do will have more headaches. The good news is that reducing some of these triggers can keep your headache under control.
Reduce your headache "TRIGGER LOAD"
According to Dr. Buchholz, cutting out foods that cause certain headaches can make a big difference. Unfortunately, dietary culprits include some favorites: chocolate, cheese (especially matured cheeses such as blue or matured cheddar), yogurt, bananas, citrus fruits and juices, and peanut butter. MSG, often disguised as an “added natural flavor” on packaging and used in some restaurants (not just Chinese), is another known headache inducer. The list includes nitrates and alcohol for preserving meat, as well as alcoholic beverages. Some forms of alcohol are worse than others: red wine and champagne are the hardest to tolerate, vodka is the easiest to treat for headaches, and white wine and beer fall somewhere in the middle. Dr. Buchholz suggests cutting out these elements to keep the headache under control and then experimenting with reintroducing it into the diet one by one to find out which headache is causing it.
AVOID THE TERMS
Another danger of headaches is caffeine. At first, it provides rapid headache relief by constricting swollen blood vessels. But once the initial effect disappears, the blood vessels swell more than before and create a cycle of “bouncing” headaches. With that in mind, Dr. Buchholz said it might be worth giving up caffeine altogether - and suffering a withdrawal headache for a few days or a week - to see if it reduces the number and intensity of the headache in the long run.
Similarly, according to Dr. Buchholz, while over-the-counter drugs containing caffeine, such as Excedrin, Sudafed, or Tylenol-Sinus, offer short-term relief, they also encourage a range of drug addictions. Prescription migraine medications can have the same effect. Aspirin or plain Tylenol is safe to use, but Dr. Buchholz warns that if you take any over-the-counter medication regularly, you should work on prevention by reducing the total trigger load.
FINDING A DISCOUNT: HOW YOGA CAN HELP
As stress is one of the main causes of headaches, finding ways to reduce and treat stress is an essential part of prevention.
As stress is one of the main causes of headaches, finding ways to reduce and treat stress is an essential part of prevention. Dr. Buchholz advises headache sufferers to practice regular and consistent yoga practice, supplemented by a quick walk, swimming, or other cardiovascular activity several times a week. Not only does this regimen, combined with enough sleep at night, help reduce stress, the endorphins released during exercise help prevent headaches. When the first signs of a headache strike, your doctor recommends that you take a break from work or household chores and take time to practice soothing yoga postures.
The series described below is a good starting point. Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden, authors of The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health, dedicate a chapter in their comprehensive resource and handbook to discussing headaches and offer a wide range of restorative poses you can practice during a headache episode.
Here are some poses that worked particularly well for me. If possible, practice this series when the headache first occurs, or try to use the poses as a preventative measure on particularly stressful days.
1. CHILD POST (ADHO MUKHA VIRASANA)
Kneel on the floor with a horizontally placed support in front of you. Keep your toes together, allow your knees to open, and extend the trunk and arms forward. Grasp the opposite elbows and support the forehead of the bracket. Close your eyes, relax completely and stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes.
2. BLACK EFFECT ANGLE POSITION (SUPTA BADHA KONASANA)
Place a folded blanket on top of the holder. Sit in front of the support, facing down from it, and fold your legs together, letting your knees move all the way to the floor. Place a folded blanket under each knee if necessary for additional support. Belt a strap behind your sacrum, above and around your hips and legs, and under your feet. Tighten the strap until you feel firm support. Lie back on the holder and support your head on the blanket. Rest and rest here for 5-10 minutes.
3. BRIDGE WITH POSE ROLLERS (SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA)
Arrange two supports: one horizontally to the wall and one second vertically, a few inches from the first. Lie on your back, your shoulders and head leaning on the floor, and your feet touching the wall. Rest the arms in a comfortable position - with the sides spread out or bent at the elbows, palms facing up. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.
4. FEET IN THE WALL POST (VIPARITA KARANI)
Place the support horizontally, a few inches from the wall. Sit on the floor and turn to your right, leaning on your hands. Arrange the lower back on the holder. Lift your legs and inches up closer to the wall until the back of your legs rests on the wall. (Getting into this pose may feel awkward at first.) Adjust your position on the support so that the lower back feels raised and supported. You may want to place a folded blanket under your neck and head. (This pose is an inversion, so skip the sequence during menstruation.)
5. MADE POST CHAIR (SHAVASANA)
Place a folding chair padded with a blanket at your feet and place two folded blankets vertically in front of you. When you lie down on the blankets, bend your knees and place your lower leg on the chair seat. Close your eyes and rest here, resting the entire system for 5-10 minutes.