Don’t Lay on the Couch with a Headache, Do Yoga

Headaches are one of the most common causes of medical illnesses, and its important to listen to your body to help prevent and relieve headaches.

Consult your health care provider if you are having regular headaches so that you have an accurrate diagnosis.

Many studies have shown that diet, exercise, hydration all affect the headaches you will experience.

Recent studies on the effects of yoga in patients with a diagnosis of chronic or episodic headache (tension-type headache and/or migraine) show benefit in both prevention and relief from yoga in improving headache frequency, headache duration, and pain intensity in patients suffering from tension-type headaches.

Chronic headache sufferers experience at least 15 days a month of pain causing loss of work and family time. What is worse there are significant risks from most of the medical therapies. It is important to use medication, if your provider recommends it, but do realize that medicines have side effects. Such as medication overuses complications including headache, gastrointestinal bleeding from NSAIDS, liver side effects from acetaminophen, addiction from the stronger opioid medications, mood, energy and memory side effects and even depression from topiramate, weight gain, and precipitation of cardiac arrhythmias and even seizures from the prevention medication amitriptyline.

In an article recently by  Houle T, Nash JM. Stress and headache chronification. Headache. 2008;48:40–4 it was shown stress can increase other risk factors of headache, such as sleep impairment, obesity, and psychopathology, all reasons to try strategies that are more holistic!

When yoga is studied for medical interventions, often there are no proscribed restrictions regarding yoga style, or length practice, of the intervention period. In fact, usually the recommendation is to just ‘do yoga.’

There are over 50 types of yoga being practiced in Western studios these days. It is known that in ancient yoga traditions the spiritual and mindful practices are associated with the greatest physical benefits. In Western society the fitness aspects are credited with the most benefits. At Hatha Yoga and Fitness, we suggest that performing yoga with the energetic benefits of practicing with others, the expansion of your practices by working with a teacher, and having a blend of fitness and yoga practices that will improve your chronic headaches the most.

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Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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