This is a stretch that'll help you get rid of your tension headache and to keep your headaches from coming back.
You know the feeling, you've been working at your computer or desk and you feel that all too familiar tightness beginning to clamp down on your neck.
It's a sign that a tension headache is coming on and a signal that you've been working too long without a break.
The next time that happens don't reach for the Advil, do the behind the back stretch instead.
You can do it either sitting or standing.
If you're going to sit make sure you have a chair with backing that comes halfway up your back.
Hook your arms over the back of the chair and pull your shoulder blades together and make sure you keep your head up too.
If you're standing assume the military position; head up, shoulders back, stomach tight. As you do this make sure you stick your chest out too as this is very important, you should exaggerate a bit.
Pull your shoulder blades together until you feel a pull in your shoulder joints. Don't go overboard on this, you don't want to cause any pain.
If during the course of this stretch your back muscles begin to tighten up due to fatigue or if you feel pain in your shoulders or chest area you need to back off from the intensity of the stretch.
Don't stop it entirely, just back off until the pain goes away.
Now hold this stretch for three full minutes. Don't cheat and quit early - the length of this stretch is very important.
Because a prolonged stretch will increase the flexibility of the connective tissues and muscles being stretched.
In this case you're working to increase the flexibility of your chest which is likely to be constricted due to habitual poor workplace posture
(By the way short stretches, especially short bouncy stretches, do not increase flexibility.)
At the end of the stretch you should feel your back muscles loosen a bit.
You may even feel a warmness of blood going up the back of your neck.
That's because you've increased blood flow by stretching then relaxing your neck, shoulders and upper back. This often provides instant relief from tension headaches.
You should take breaks throughout the day to perform this stretch.
Well you definitely want to do this stretch the minute you feel tightness developing in your neck and upper back. A good rule of thumb is to do it at least every 60 to 90 minutes.
This might seem inconvenient but it's worth it. Not only will you head off or get rid of a tension headache by regularly doing this stretch, you'll also improve your posture.
This behind-the-back stretch, done either sitting or standing, is the most effective stretching exercise for preventing or getting rid of a tension headache.
And a final note: If productivity requirements at work make holding the stretch for three minutes impractical, hold it for as long as is feasible.
Even a one minute stretch provides noticeable relief.