Last month, I began a three-part series on how writers can address problem pain-areas. I explained a simple neck-drill that works wonders for eliminating neck and shoulder pain. Now it’s time to address the second in the trifecta of writers’ pain woes: The Headache.

The skull has 142 joints called sutures, and they are all meant to move … at least a little bit. When these joints do not move—like what happens when other parts of the body become immobile—pain manifests. There are two areas (and corresponding drills) that seem to have the greatest impact when relieving headaches.

For these drills we are going to do very few reps. Small and precise moves are the keys to success. Remember, if these drills become painful, STOP. If they do not help, it does not mean “do more.” NEVER move into pain.

Drill #1: Front and Center
– Sit up nice and tall in a chair, pushing the crown of the head up through the ceiling
– Tilt the chin down slightly, moving from the base of the skull
– Tilt the head about 30 degrees to the left
– Finish bringing the chin down to the chest. Your head will be at an angle—this is correct
– Make very slight nodding motions (just 3 or 4), and you should feel a slight tugging sensation along the top of your skull, extending slightly in to the forehead
– Bring your head up, straighten out, and see how you feel
– Now, repeat the drill, but tilt the head 30 degrees to the right this time. It’s essential to even things up

Drill #2: Side
– Sit up nice and tall in a chair, pushing the crown of the head up through the ceiling
– Tilt the chin down slightly, moving from the base of the skull
– Rotate your head right, about 30 degrees. (This is different than the drill above, that was tilt, this is rotate)
– Now, tilt your head left, pretty much over as far as it will comfortably go
– Relax the jaw and glide the lower jaw over to the left (towards the ground if you will).
– At this point you are probably feeling pretty goofy, but we are almost done. Rotate your head just slightly to the right, 3 or 4 times. You should feel a light pulling around and just up from the jaw joint
– Bring your head up, straighten out, and see how you feel
– Now, repeat the drill, but tilt the head 30 degrees to the left this time. Again,it’s essential to even things up

If you are having a problem feeling either stretch, you have two options:

1) Try to feel the drill with your fingers. For the first drill, gently place your fingertips along the crown of the head, front to back. For the second drill lay the fingertips along the hairline between the jaw joint and they eye on the side that is “up.” You should feel the motion when it’s time for the 3 or 4 small nods or rotations.

2) Change the head position slightly (go from 30 to 35, or even 25 degrees). It’s about finding the right head-position for you—and everyone is slightly different.

While these drills can be done at any time, I have the most fun teaching them to people when they have a headache: I love the “oh, wow” that comes with making the headache go away. Since I learned these techniques, my headaches become considerably less common and I rarely need ibuprofen for them. One of these two drills almost always works.

Keep me posted on your progress, and next month I’m going to talk about the third component of the writer’s pain trifecta: Carpal Tunnel.

Jen

Jen Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger. jen@movefitfun.com

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