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Foam Roll Angels for Tension Headache Relief

Foam Roll Angels for Tension Headache Relief

A common source of tension headache are the muscles around the neck and shoulders. Two common culprits are the suboccipital muscles (the small muscles at the base of the skull) and the upper traps (which sit on top of your shoulders).  When irritated these muscles can refer pain around the temples and behind the eyes – the typical pattern for a tension headache.  

The Foam Roll Angel exercise helps to gently stretch the suboccipital muscles and relax the upper traps reducing headache symptoms.

It also helps to open up the chest and mid-back thereby improving upright posture which is a common underlying cause of the muscular tightness in the first place. 

Left: normal upright posture resulting in minimal strain on the neck. Right: slumped mid-back posture leading to a forward head position, predisposing to neck pain and tension headache.

The foam roll angel for tension headache relief

foam roll angels, excellent exercise for tension headache relief
  • Lie on your back on a foam roll with your hands at your side and palms facing upwards.
  • Gently tuck your chin to lengthen the back of your neck – stretching the suboccipitals. (If you are very rounded through the mid back you may need a small pillow under your head.)
  • Bring your ribs down to flatten your lower back (but do not tense your abdomen).
  • Slowly breathe in and out for 3-5 minutes feeling your shoulders drop towards the floor with each exhalation.
  • As your chest and shoulders relax you can slowly move the arms higher, but only move as far as you can keep the forearms on the floor.
  • One effective variation is to gently push the arms into the floors as you breathe in and then relax the arms as you breathe out.

Troubleshooting: Pec release  

If you are very tight through your pec muscles (front of your chest) combining the foam roll angels with the following pec release exercise can be helpful.

To perform:

  • Lay on your stomach.
  • Place a massage ball underneath the muscle at the front of your chest, near your shoulder.
  • Next, move your hand to the small of your back.
  • From that position slowly move your arm in a sweeping motion above your head, before slowly returning the arm to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8-10 times
  • Make sure to stay strictly on the soft muscular part of the chest.

What foam roll should I use?

We recommend the 66fit EVA foam roll. It is a high quality roll, soft enough to make it comfortable for the ‘Foam Roll Angel’ but firm enough for other uses such as muscle rolling.

Are you looking for tension headache relief? 

Click here to find out how Treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI could help.



‘The Foam Roll Angel for Tension Headache Relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.

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