Unfortunately, as we grow older our bodies develop aches and pains that we scoffed at when in our 20's. For many years I have had the "pleasure" of enduring the occasional tension headache.
Today, was one of those days. I woke this morning, after a late night of live music and a few drinks, to a sore neck and a head that felt like it was in a vice, even the slightest of movements or bright light sent my head pounding and my stomach churning.
Whilst it is certain that my ageing body has made me more susceptible to such headaches, it is worth noting that, for the most part I should be able to prevent them from occurring or at least lessen their severity.
Tension headaches are perhaps the most common of all headaches and whilst the root cause may vary, the common factor is still the same, tension. So, it makes sense then to ascertain what the cause of any tension headache is so that it can be combated.
In general, a tension headache is caused by tension in your neck and shoulders, but what causes that tension can vary. Overuse of your neck and shoulders, poor sleep, especially with a poor mattress or pillow choice, extended time spent hunched over looking at your computer screen, smartphone or even a book. Other contributing factors include stress, anxiety, depression, bright lights or noisy environments.
In my case, whilst their may be several contributing factors, I find that if I get over tired and therefore sleep "heavily" I will often wake with a sore neck and a headache. Last night was a case in point, I did have a late night and slept very soundly after spending the evening, listening to loud music whilst hunched over leaning on a railing and having spent money on a number of drinks at the bar. (p.s. No! I wasn't hungover, but a few drinks coupled with a late night ensured a heavy sleep).
So aside from taking some anti-inflammatories, with food of course, what were my options? Well I could have spent the day moping around being a grumpy old man for the rest of the day, but that was not going to be very productive.
So I started with a hot shower and whilst any movement was unbearable, I performed some basic stretches on my neck and shoulders with the hot water on my back. Personally I always find that a hot shower followed by a good pot of tea, improves everything. (Pot of tea? See I am getting old. )
Whilst I did feel a little better , I was still not in any shape to hit the day running. My next step was to get out my tube of fisiocrem. Fisiocrem is a wonderful herbal solution that was recommended to me by two Physiotherapists and contains the like of Arnica and Calendula. I have found it more effective than any other over the counter product for use on muscle aches. This time however, like the shower, it helped but not enough for my liking.
My next approach was to jump in my car and head to my nearby shopping centre/mall, where there is a small shop offering massages. I feel certain that you are familiar with the type of shop I refer to, an Asian massage shop with curtained off booths offering a basic massage service.
I have been to this shop a number of times and whilst I know not to expect the quality deep massage one would get from a professional sports/therapeutic masseuse, I for one find them to be a good entry level massage. Rather than just getting a neck massage I chose the neck/shoulder and back massage. I did so as quite often, lower back issues can manifest higher up, resulting in neck and shoulder problems.
In this instance it was money well spent, whilst I still feel a little tightness in the neck, my tension headache has abated and I am feeling great. I firmly believe that such massage shops offer a good service, however I will make a point of saying that should your symptoms not ease, a trip to a medical professional, be that your GP or a qualified Therapeutic Masseuse is in order.
Of course prevention is always better than cure, so how do you go about preventing tension headaches in the first place? Well, for me I know that losing weight is always going to help, and that is a work in progress. However, exercise and stretching is perhaps the best thing you can do to prevent any muscle related ailments.
One of the best forms of exercise, both for combating tension headaches and simply for men in their 50's, is Yoga. For many guys, you will no doubt have the idea that yoga is for women and its not a serious form of exercise. On both counts I can assure you that is not the case.
I myself, over the past 6 months have attended a number of yoga sessions and have been surprised at just how intense even a beginners session can be. Plus, at none of the sessions was I the only male there. The attendees have all been of a wide variety of ages and of both sexes.
The benefits of yoga are many and varied, but improving your flexibility, your core strength and your overall fitness, are the most relevant here. It is also a good social gathering, which is always a bonus for us single men, who knows who you may meet.
There are many types and levels of yoga ,so I suggest you simply start with a beginner level. A quick search online or even a phone call to your local council should reveal a number of local yoga classes. Many gyms hold yoga sessions, with non members attending on a pay as you go basis.
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Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.