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These Headache Stretches Work as Well as Pain Pills

No ibuprofen? No problem.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

A surprising headache cause? Your muscles

Many headaches are caused by muscles in the neck area. If you work at a desk every day and don’t have perfect posture, you may be used to these. Instead of relying on pain meds, try some headache-relieving stretches that target these muscles. Experiment to see which stretches work best for you. You can use them to prevent headaches or even to halt a burgeoning headache in its tracks. Hold each stretch for a few seconds and perform them gently; they shouldn’t hurt. If you have neck or upper back problems, you may need to talk to your health care provider before attempting such exercises. Check out more of my smart health tricks and first aid hacks here.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The backward shoulder roll

Roll your shoulders backward. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you roll.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The forward head roll

Tilt your head sideways so your left ear is tilted down toward your left shoulder. Roll your head forward, to the right, until you’re looking at the floor. Continue rolling your head to the right until your right ear is tilted above your right shoulder. Now reverse: Roll your head forward to the left.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The wingtips stretch

Extend your arms straight out like you’re pretending to be a plane. Bend your elbows and touch your ears with your fingers. Now you look like a bird. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were getting ready to take off.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The “look behind you!” stretch

Turn your head to the right to look over your shoulder. Bring your chin down toward your shoulder. Repeat on the left.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The chin tilt

This one’s more complicated. Don’t hurt yourself. Tilt your head to the right so that your ear is toward your shoulder. Jut your chin slightly forward. Tilt your head forward and down a little, keeping your chin out a bit. Use your right hand to gently push your head forward and deepen the stretch. Do the same thing again on the left side.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The twist

Sit in a chair. Twist your torso to the right. Put your right hand on the back of the chair with your upper arm extended about 90 degrees from your torso and your elbow pointed behind you. Stretch. Repeat on the left side.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The bear hug

Extend your arms in front of you as if you were going to hug someone. Bring your hands together and interlace your fingers. Tilt your head down, pulling your chin in.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock/9nong

The imploding-chin stretch

Stand up straight, as if you were balancing a book on your head. Using your neck muscles (not your hands), pull your chin straight back, as if you were trying to make it touch the portion of the spine that’s directly behind it.

Reader's Digest

Get more smart home remedies and health hacks

Find more home remedies that really work in Dr. Hubbard’s newest book, The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, and at thesurvivaldoctor.com.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest