Managing Headaches Part 2 – Stretches for neck health

The stretches below can be used before the onset of a headache to relieve muscular tension in the shoulder and neck area, during the onset of symptoms, or after a headache for general neck well-being and to avoid repeated headache onset due to tight neck musculature or poor ergonomics.


These stretches aren’t just for headaches. They are particularly good for office workers who generally carry a lot of tension in the neck, chest, shoulder and forearm area due to their prolonged sitting, screen use and repetitive typing. In saying that the general population too will benefit from the below stretches.

Hold each stretch at a moderate intensity; for example – you feel a gentle pull and no sharp or ‘tingly’ pain. In the presence of pain which feels to be coming from the spine, is sharp or you feel tingling sensations please stop and visit your GP for further guidance.

Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Alex Hardy, shares some stretches to relieve muscular tension in the shoulder and neck area.

Practice Daily – (2-3 x day during symptoms of a headache or during office work)

Neck to the Side

  • 4 x 10- 20 seconds (2 x on left and right side of neck)
  • You can add the hand as overpressure if you feel comfortable holding the head to the side.

Neck 45 degrees

  • 4 x 10- 20 seconds
  • Turn the head across 45 degrees, look down towards your elbow, if this isn’t enough of a stretch add the hand as overpressure. The last step is for advanced clientele.

Biceps stretch

  • 4 x 10- 20 seconds
  • If there is pain the shoulder joint, place the hand lower than shoulder height
  • Place the palm of the hand on the wall at shoulder height or slightly below, slowly turn away from the palm.

Wrist flexion/Extension

  • 4 x 10- 20 seconds
  • If there is pain the wrist joint, try the movement by itself, without adding the additional hand for support
  • Try with the palm facing you and facing away.


Shoulder Shrugs

  • 2 x 5
  • Try to roll the shoulders up and back

If you are experiencing reoccurring headaches or are worried, you should seek the advice of an allied health professional such as your GP.