Headache Prevention

Headaches are discussed in the media

The fact that the frequent use of painkillers can actually give us headaches, is once again being brought to the attention of the public – and a good thing too. ‘Medication overuse headaches’ is the term given to describe the preventable condition, in which we can become habituated to the painkillers so we try taking more in order to bring about relief – but only end up by making the situation worse.

It is therefore necessary for people who have been constantly taking painkillers to come off them but, like coming off other drugs, there are withdrawal symptoms and as the BBC news item put it ‘this will lead to about a month of agony as patients contend with regular headaches without pain relief, until symptoms eventually improve’.

This is obviously a situation worth avoiding!

So what can people do, other than reaching for drugs when they first get headaches? Well, using the Alexander Technique can be amazingly helpful here, particularly if the headaches have been brought about through stress, poor posture and/or general mis-use and tension. 
What Pupils Say
A new pupil told me yesterday that ‘I sat waiting for a train and thought about freeing my neck and my jaw and I actually managed to stop my headache from developing! So I avoided taking any paracetamol, which is what I would have done before I started having AT lessons’. This way of reducing headaches is surely preferable to using painkillers, if they can be avoided.

Another pupil, who came to me after having had major brain surgery also described, in her testimonial, how the AT had helped her with her ‘horrible headaches’  that she’d had since childhood. This pupil had previously ‘tried many things over many years to help reduce the frequency of the headaches’ and she said that taking Alexander lessons with me had changed things for her so that ‘I rarely get headaches any more because (Hilary) helped me teach my body to relax away from the bundle of tension it had become’. 
It would almost certainly have helped this pupil to avoid years of headaches, if she had been able to have AT lessons as a child, which would have helped her avoid the tension patterns and postural problems that she had developed as she grew up.

Working out why we get headaches, is an important part of being able to avoid them and factors such as tension, the way we use our bodies and even what we eat can play a part in bringing about headaches. Severe or frequent headaches can be a symptom of a medical condition that needs treatment, so do consult a Doctor in such cases. 
However, for the headaches that most people experience, learning the Alexander Technique so that you can use it as an invaluable first step to take and is far more beneficial to use it rather than automatically taking painkillers that have been shown to work less and less well over time, until they cause pain and many problems. Use the AT regularly and save painkillers for occasional use – they will work better for you and you will feel healthier.
International Alexander Awareness Week Taster Workshop ~ 7 August 
If you would like to find out more about the Alexander Technique I will be running a free Taster Workshop on 7 August in Islington N, as part of International Alexander Awareness Week. Individual lessons are regularly available in Stoke Newington N16.

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