The cause of headache pain is excessive muscular tension or weakness in the upper body, neck, and jaw muscles. Muscular tightness or weakness in these areas will refer pain into the head region. Night time teeth grinding will also play a role in causing headaches. Headache treatment entails restoring the numerous muscles that uphold the head. Active Isolated Stretching and Strengthening (AIS) has the best treatment plan for curing all types of headache pain.
Active Isolated Stretching and Strengthening views migraine, cluster, tension, or chronic headaches as a muscular problem. AIS therapy is an alternative to pain medication pills. In the book Heal Joint Pain Naturally by Ellen Hodgson Brown, research found that pain pills impede the body’s ability to repair itself (page 20). This is true of headache pain as well as joint pain. Pain relieving drugs provide a temporary solution to migraine, cluster, or tension headaches. The long term solution involves rehabilitation to the muscles that support and surround the head.
The textbook Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction written by Janet Travell, M.D. goes into detail about referred pain problems. This concept is also called trigger point theory. Dr. Travell brought to light how tightness in certain muscles can cause pain to corresponding regions of the body. Dr. Travell’s referred pain theory brought to light that the area where pain is felt and the source of pain can be two separate regions.
Following Janet Travell’s trigger point theory, AIS therapy treats headaches by first opening the muscles of the chest, shoulders, upper arms, and upper back. A major source of headache pain involves reducing tension in the scapula region. The scapula is the prominent bone of the upper back. It is also called the shoulder blades. The scapula is an anchor to numerous muscles of the shoulder, neck, and upper back. Many upper body muscles attach to the scapula at one end, and to the skull at the other end. Therefore, reducing pressure on the scapula will decrease headache pain. Numerous muscles affect the position of the scapula. Tension in the biceps, triceps, deltoids, pectorals (chest), latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles all play a role in the placement of the scapula. If any of these upper body muscles are tight then the scapula bone can be pulled out of anatomical position. Displacement of the scapula can cause referred pain to the head region, causing headache pain.
Dissecting headache pain involves looking at all the muscles that surround the skull. The head is above the chest, shoulders, and upper back; but the closest area to the head is the neck muscles. Tightness in the neck muscles will refer pain to the head region. Because muscles work in groups, it is necessary to open the chest, shoulders, and upper back; before lengthening muscles of the neck. The scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, and levator scapula are muscles of the neck that need to be treated to resolve chronic headache pain.
A third area worth mentioning is the muscles of the jaw. Similar to headaches, jaw pain can be referred from stressed muscles of the upper body. Additionally, jaw pain can be caused by grinding the teeth at night. When the digastric muscle of the jaw gets tight, it plays a major role in all types of headaches. The digastric (jaw) muscle can be opened thru the Active Isolated Stretching process.
The Active Isolated Stretching approach is very specific to treating chronic headaches. The shoulders and chest muscles affect the neck and jaw muscles, and all of those muscles can cause migraine, cluster, and tension headaches. Reducing inflammation has long been the strategy of decreasing headache pain. But pain relieving pills are non-specific as to which parts of the body need inflammation reduction. Furthermore, tightness in upper body muscles will not unwind by taking pain relieving pills. Pulling apart muscles to their appropriate length will get to the long term solution of chronic headaches.