How does physiotherapy help with Tension headaches?

Tension headaches are a common type of headache that can cause mild to moderate pain around your head, face, or neck. They are often described as feeling like a tight band around the head 1Tension headaches can be episodic or chronic, and their causes are not well understood. They can significantly impact your daily life, making it difficult to concentrate or perform daily activities.

So, how exactly does physiotherapy help with tension headaches? This blog post will discuss the science behind this effective treatment approach, exploring the various techniques physiotherapists use and the remarkable benefits they offer. We’ll also discuss who can benefit from physiotherapy and where to find qualified professionals to guide you on your journey to a headache-free life.

What is a tension headache?

A tension headache, also known as a stress headache or tension-type headache, is the most common type of headache. It is characterized by a dull, aching pain or pressure felt on both sides of the head, often described as a tight band or vice surrounding the head.

Here are some key characteristics of tension headaches:


  • Dull, aching, or pressure-like
  • Located on both sides of the head, typically in the forehead, temples, and back of the head
  • May feel like a tight band or vice surrounding the head


  • Can occur occasionally or be chronic (occurring 15 or more days per month)


  • Can last from 30 minutes to several hours

Other symptoms:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Tenderness in the scalp
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability


  • Stress is the most common trigger for tension headaches.
  • Muscle tension in the neck and scalp can also contribute to the pain.
  • Other factors that may trigger tension headaches include:
    • Poor posture
    • Eyestrain
    • Dehydration
    • Hunger
    • Lack of sleep
    • Caffeine withdrawal


  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief.
  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help to reduce stress and muscle tension.
  • Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for tension headaches by addressing muscle tension, improving posture, and teaching stress management techniques.
  • In some cases, medication may be prescribed to prevent headaches.

Physical therapy helps with gross motor skills

How Physiotherapy Works for Tension Headaches

Physiotherapists use a combination of techniques to help relieve tension headaches and prevent future occurrences. These may include:

  • Manual therapy: This involves hands-on techniques such as massage, stretching, and mobilization to release tight muscles and improve joint mobility. These techniques can help to reduce pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.
  • Postural education: Poor posture can contribute to tension headaches by putting strain on the neck and upper back muscles. Physiotherapists can help you identify and correct poor posture, which can significantly reduce headache frequency and intensity.
  • Strengthening and flexibility exercises: Physiotherapists can design a personalized exercise program to strengthen the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. This can help to improve posture, reduce muscle tension, and prevent future headaches.
  • Stress management techniques: Stress is a major trigger for tension headaches. Physiotherapists can teach you stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, which can help you relax and manage stress more effectively.
  • Biofeedback: This technique uses sensors to help you become more aware of your muscle activity and learn to control it better. This can help reduce muscle tension and prevent headaches.

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Tension Headaches

  • Effective pain relief: Physiotherapy can provide significant relief from tension headaches, often without relying on medication.
  • Long-lasting results: By addressing the underlying causes of headaches, physiotherapy can help to prevent them from coming back.
  • Improved posture and flexibility: Physiotherapy can help improve your posture and flexibility, which can reduce muscle tension and prevent headaches.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety: The relaxation techniques taught by physiotherapists can help you manage stress and anxiety, which can also help to prevent headaches.
  • Non-invasive treatment: Physiotherapy is a safe and non-invasive treatment option, making it a suitable choice for people of all ages and health conditions.

Who Can Benefit from Physiotherapy

Anyone who suffers from tension headaches can benefit from physiotherapy. This is especially true for people who:

  • Have frequent headaches
  • Experience headaches that are severe or debilitating
  • Have tried other treatments without success
  • Want to avoid medication or are concerned about its side effects
  • Want to prevent future headaches

What types of exercises are suggested for tension-related headaches?

Here are some exercises for tension headaches:

  • Chin tucks: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Slowly tuck your chin in towards your chest, holding for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.
  • Neck rotation stretch: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Slowly rotate your head to the left, holding for 5 seconds. Reverse the direction and rotate to the right, holding for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  • Upper trapezius stretch: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Lower one shoulder down towards your hip, holding for 5 seconds. Switch sides and repeat 10 times on each side.
  • Levator scapulae stretch: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Clasp your hands behind your back, palms facing away from you. Slowly raise your elbows towards the ceiling, holding for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.
  • SNAG towel stretch: Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Place a towel behind your neck, with the ends of the towel in each hand. Gently pull on the towel to stretch your neck muscles, holding for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.


If you are suffering from tension headaches, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified physiotherapist. With their expertise and personalized treatment plans, you can find relief from pain and enjoy a better quality of life.

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I am a highly skilled and experienced content writer with a Doctorate in Therapy degree. With a deep understanding of the human body and a passion for health and wellness. I combines my clinical expertise and writing skills to create valuable and engaging content.

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