Do You Get Neck Pain Or A Headache At The Base Of Your Skull?
This quick and easy stretch can help relieve neck pain and headache at the base of your skull.
Watch this short, 85-second video to learn how to do the stretch...
What Causes Neck Pain & Headache At The Base Of The Skull?
Poor posture can cause all kinds of problems, particularly if you work at a desk.
One of the most common problems that it can cause is neck pain and headaches at the base of the skull.
You may remember the quote from the movie Jerry McGuire, "The human head weighs 8 pounds"
That might be the weight of the little boy's head, but the average human adult's head is closer to 11 lbs.
Holding up that much weight can cause neck pain and headaches at the base of the skull.
Your neck muscles have to work really hard to hold your head up.
Think about holding a bowling ball in your hand. If you hold it directly above your elbow, it's pretty easy.
The further forward you move your head, the more stress it puts on the neck muscles.
Do this for 8 hours a day or more, and you may start to develop neck pain and headaches at the base of your skull.
Neck Muscles At Base Of Skull
The neck muscles at the base of your skull are called the suboccipital muscles. (sub = "below", occiput = "skull")
As you can see, there are 4 pairs of suboccipital muscles:
- Rectus capitis posterior major (blue)
- Rectus capitis posterior minor (orange)
- Obliquus capitis superior goes (green)
- Obliquus capitis inferior (red)
Essentially the function of all of these muscles is the same though:
They pull the base of your skull toward the top of the neck in order to keep your head and eyes facing forward.
Postures That Cause Headaches At The Base Of The Skull
As mentioned above, sitting with your head too far forward is one common cause of a headache at the base of the skull.
This causes your suboccipital muscles to work extra hard to hold your head up.
However, looking down all day can an also cause neck pain.
For example if, if you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone, it can overstretch your suboccipital muscles and cause neck pain at the base of the skull
How To Relieve Neck Pain & Headache At Base Of Skull
You may have tried to stretch your suboccipital muscles in the past by either looking down or pulling your head down. If you've had physical therapy in the past, you've also probably tried doing chin tuck exercises.
However, it can be hard to get your stiff neck muscles completely stretched out by just looking down or doing chin tucks.
If your neck muscles have gotten really stiff, your deep neck flexor muscles may not be strong enough to stretch them out on their own.
Neck joint mobilization/manipulation, manual trigger point therapy, and dry needling are some easy ways to relieve neck pain and headaches at the base of the skull by quickly relaxing the suboccipital muscles.
Those are all things that we do here at More 4 Life, and if you'd like us to help with your neck pain or headaches, you can click here to learn about cost & availability of appointments.
However, if you're outside of St. Louis or you're not quite ready to make an appointment yet, try this easy stretch to get your neck muscles completely stretched out and relieve your neck pain and headache at the base of your skull.
Stretch To Relieve Neck Pain & Headache At Base Of Skull
- Take 1 hand and set your forearm on top of your head
- Cup your fingers around the back of your head
- Your elbow should be right in front of your nose
- Press down and compress your skull
- Move your fingertips upwards
- At this point, your elbow should drop towards the ground
- You should feel a stretch at the base of your skull
- Only go as far as you can comfortably. You can make your headache worse if you stretch too far.
- Hold this position for 1 minute
Need Help For Neck Pain or Headaches?
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Can't Make It To Our Office In Person?
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Is your neck pain at the base of the skull more on either the right or left side?
If so, check our our post "Neck Pain At The Base Of The Skull On The Right Side Or Left Side"