You’ve got a migraine coming on – you can feel it. You have that tightness in your neck and shoulders, sounds are getting on your nerves, you’re squinting with the light, and you have a dry tingling sensation in your nose. Everyone better stay the hell out of your way unless they want their head bitten off.
So what do you do?
Most of us reach to our abortive meds. Mine is a cocktail of liquid ibuprofen and extra strength paracetamol, which I take quickly before my stomach shuts down. But that is not always enough. In fact, more often than not your migraine is coming anyway.
Its time to find some floor space. (If you have a bad back, you can do these exercises on a bed, but i like the firmness of the floor for separating out those vertebrae)
The most affective way i’ve found for staving off an attack is to stretch out the cramping muscles in my back and neck.
- Lay flat on your back. Pull your knees up so your feet are flat on the floor and let them fall to one side. Then stretch your arms out in the other direction. Hold for a count of five and repeat on the other side. You should feel an immediate relief in the middle section of your back.
This exercise works in a similar way to stretch no. 1
2. Curl your legs up to your chest and hug them with your arms. Rock forward and backward rolling your spine on the floor. This is a great way to massage all the knots between your shoulder blades.
3. This is a great pick of Marilyn Monroe showing the next stretch. If you are agile enough to do this, it really separates out the vertebrae at the lower part of your neck and pulls out any knots across the shoulders. As you come out of this, lower yourself very slowly, one vertebrae at a time. It stretches the spine all the way along, and stops you from hurting yourself.
Then slowly stand, touch the floor and unroll yourself to stand up straight. It’s all about doing everything one vertebrae at a time. Loosening and freeing everything up.
4. You’ve stretched out the big muscles, now it’s time for small muscle movements. Concentrate on which parts of you are affected by your oncoming migraine. What is tense and stiffening up? We need to loosen those areas up as quickly as we can. Start by rotating your head in small circles. (Stop if it is causing pain) Then roll your shoulders forwards several times, then backwards.
5. Rhythmic Breathing – Take slow breaths. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Count to five as you do each. Concentrate on how you relax so you can remember the feeling. This is important because your mind associates feelings with movements, and you will achieve the desired affect more quickly every time you do these exercises.
6. Deep Breathing – Imagine a spot just below your belly button. Breath into that spot so your lower abdomen fills with air. Then slowly let it out like a ballon deflating. Every time you repeat this, you will relax a little more each time.
7. Picture Relaxation Breathing – This is combining slow breathing with your imagination. Picture relaxation entering your body and tension leaving. Breathe deeply but in a natural rhythm. Visualise each step of your breathing. Nostrils – lungs – expanding chest – abdomen. Then reverse it as you breathe out. Abdomen – expanding chest – lungs – mouth. Imagine each breath coming in is relaxation, and each exhale is breathing out tension. You are literally emptying out your body of the tension.
8. Your Imaginary Restful Place – Mine is always a mental picture of a tropical beach where i’m in a hammock strung between two shady coconut trees. I’m listening to the waves lapping against the shore. (Make sure you clear you mind, and don’t allow ‘I really must do’, or ‘I must remember’, thoughts to interrupt your image)
9. Relaxing Music – (If you can bear noise) I personally find music annoying at this phase of my migraine. You may find music that lifts your mood beneficial, or specially designed relaxation music or sounds such as water or birds singing.
Above all, remember these things while you are recovering:
- Let go of the things you can’t control
- It’s ok to let go sometimes
- It’s impossible to be perfect all the time
- When this episode passes you’ll be on the ball again
- You can shut down once in a while to be strong again.
I highly recommend taking a yoga or pilates class
We are bombarded with images of being healthy – that includes supplements. Just what is the vitamin connection with migraine? Should we be taking supplements or not? I’ll be looking at this in my next post.
If you haven’t got it yet, my new report is out. Just leave me your email address and you’ll get a free copy.