Headache cause, symptoms and treatment with 4 exercises

There are different causes of headaches, just as there are different types.

First, I will explain what types of headaches there are and how you can recognize them and then I will explain the cause of the most common headache symptoms so that you know how to treat the cause yourself.

Some headache symptoms can indicate multiple types of headaches, making it sometimes difficult to tell them apart. You can also have multiple types of headaches at the same time.

The treatment often consists of a combination of exercises and treating pressure points or muscle knots.

So read on quickly.

  1. The cause of headache
  2. Headache types
  3. Headache symptoms
  4. Headache treatment with 4 exercises
Headache cause, symptoms and treatment with 4 exercises

The cause of headaches

The most common cause of headaches is stress. Stress can cause your neck muscles to become stiff and tense, or your neck to become stuck and you get a stiff neck. This can cause tension headaches or cervicogenic headaches.

Another cause of headaches is overexertion. When your neck and shoulder muscles become overloaded, this can cause pain radiating from your neck to your head and causing a headache.

The cause of migraine and cluster headaches is not yet known. Migraines can be triggered by overload or overstimulation. It is also known that certain foods can trigger a migraine attack and that tension headaches or cervicogenic headaches can lead to a migraine attack.

Drinking too little is another known cause of headaches. Drinking too little water leads to thicker blood, causing you to experience more pressure on your head.

Another headache cause is excessive use of medication. This creates an addiction, the withdrawal symptoms of which can come in the form of headaches. This also applies to excessive coffee consumption.


Headache types

We distinguish 5 types of headache, with one variant more common than the other. I now describe the characteristics of each variant. You have to have almost all the characteristics at the same time, to actually have that type of headache.


Tension headache

Tension headaches are often present for a long time, up to several days in a row. It feels like pressure on the head on both sides and on top of the head. You feel it pulling up from your neck. The headache is of medium intensity.


Cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headaches last for a shorter period of time than tension headaches, only lasting a few hours at a time. The headache is located on one side of the head and is accompanied by neck pain on the same side. The neck is stiff and limited in turning to the side of the headache. The intensity is moderate to intense and you can experience radiation from your neck to your arm.



Migraines are known to come in attacks. An attack can last between 4 hours and 3 days. The headache is palpable on one side and pulsating in nature. The headache is often severe and increases with physical activity or when exposed to light or sound. It can also be accompanied by nausea and you may see spots. Severe cervicogenic headaches are often confused with migraines. A migraine attack can also be triggered by cervicogenic headaches.


Cluster headache

Cluster headaches also occur in attacks, which can last up to 8 hours. The pain is present on one side of the head and is very intense. Typical symptoms are restlessness in movement, a running nose on the same side as the headache, and a watery eye. You also often see that the eye is not completely open on the side of the headache. These signals indicate a neurological cause of the headache. This is a rare form of headache.


Drug-induced headache

Medication-induced headache is a mild, nagging form of headache, similar to a tension headache. The headache disappears when medication is taken again, with medication having a very limited effect on tension headaches.

Now that the different types of headaches are known, it is time to explain your headache symptoms. This allows us to provide more targeted treatment.

Headache Symptoms

Now that the different types of headaches are known, it is time to explain your headache symptoms. This allows us to provide more targeted treatment.

Headache from the neck

Headache from the neck is caused by a joint in your neck that does not move properly, or because your neck muscles are overloaded. This can be a tension headache or cervicogenic headache. Cervicogenic headache is always accompanied by neck pain.

Depending on the structure causing the radiating pain, the headache may be felt in the forehead or back of the head.

These 3 symptoms are now further explained below.

Headache in the forehead, often on one side above the eye

A headache in your forehead can be caused by radiation from a muscle or from your upper cervical vertebra.

An overloaded trapezius causes pain that radiates towards your ear and to your forehead, above your eye. The pain is always on one side. When you press on the pressure point of the trapezius, you will feel the headache increase.

Another cause of this type of headache is a restriction of movement at the top of your neck. When the first cervical vertebra is stuck, this can lead to a headache in the back of your head, your forehead, or jaw pain. It is a form of cervicogenic headache. Turning your head to the side that hurts is also limited and painful.

The treatment consists of improving the mobility of your neck and relaxing the neck muscles by stretching them and holding the pressure points in the muscle.

Headache in the forehead, often on one side above the eye cause, symptoms, and treatment with 4 exercises

Headache on the side of the head

Headache on the side of the head is caused by radiation from the temporalis muscle. This is a muscle that runs from your jaw to the side of your head. The headache is aggravated by chewing and is accompanied by jaw pain. The jaw may also be stiff or restricted.

You can treat this form of headache by solving your jaw pain. When your jaw is relaxed again, the tension in your temporalis muscle also decreases and the radiating headache disappears. You can find the treatment for jaw pain here.

Headache on the side of the head cause, symptoms, and treatment with 4 exercises

Headache in the back of the head

A headache in the back of your head is caused by radiation from your neck. When your neck is stuck, the neck muscles become overloaded, causing them to radiate to the back of your head. In this case, the lower part of your neck is somewhat limited when looking upwards. Your upper back may also feel stiff. The pain can also radiate to the top of the head.

In this case, we speak of tension headaches. The headache is usually located on both sides of the back of the head.

The treatment consists of loosening the neck and improving posture. View the treatment here on our tension headache page.

Headache in the back of the head cause, symptoms, and treatment with 4 exercises

Headache treatment with 4 exercises

To relieve your headache yourself, it is important to tackle the cause as far as possible.

This means that you need to make sure that your neck and neck muscles are flexible and strong so that they do not become overloaded. For this reason, the exercises especially help against muscle tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches. Because migraines are often accompanied by tension headaches, you can ensure that your migraine attack is less intense by doing these exercises.

In addition, you can reduce the tension in your neck muscles by pressing the pressure points in the specific muscles. These pressure points are also called trigger points.

The tension in this trigger point causes radiating pain in the head and tension in the muscles. By pressing on the pressure points you reduce the tension and the radiation to your head. This provides immediate headache relief. You are looking for spots that immediately make your headache worse when you press on them.

I will now describe the exercises that will help you reduce your headaches.

Headache cause, symptoms and treatment with 4 exercises

Headache exercise 1: Improving neck mobility

The first headache exercise focuses on improving the mobility of the neck. By making your neck more flexible, your neck pain will disappear, and with it, your cervicogenic headache.

A flexible neck reduces the pressure in the joint and also the strain on the neck muscles. It allows them to become smoother, eliminating the radiating pain to the head.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Wrap a towel around your neck
  • Take with your left hand the right side of the towel, and with your right hand the left side
  • Now lift the hand that is in front up until the towel is at the same height as your cheek
  • Now pull with your arm and the towel your head in the full rotation to the side
  • Repeat this ten times and then change to the opposite side by changing your hands
  • Finally, grab the towel standard and lift your arms and look up at the same time

In this video, you can see how to perform the exercise.

Repeat the exercise 2 times a day. At first, it will be painful and feel stiff. Try to rotate your neck as far as possible, despite the pain. You will notice that it gets easier and easier.

headache exercise 1 increase the mobility of your neck

Headache exercise 2: Stretching your neck muscles

The second headache exercise focuses on reducing tension in the neck muscles. As already explained, headaches are, in most cases, caused by stiff neck muscles. By stretching the neck muscles, the tension decreases, which also decreases your headache. In many cases, the headache disappears completely with this stretching exercise.

In addition to stretching these muscles, there are also essential pressure points that cause radiance. By pushing and holding these pressure points for a long time, you will notice the tension and pain decrease quickly.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Place your hand on top of your head
  • Bend your neck sideways by pulling down your head
  • Also, rotate it a little bit to the same side
  • You will feel stretching of your trapezius on the other side
  • Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat it three times

In this video, you can see how to perform the exercise.

Repeat this exercise twice a day. I would also advise you to do it on both sides since usually both sides are affected.

These two exercises will often be enough to get rid of your tension headache.

However, when poor posture causes tension, this won’t solve the main problem. To do this, you have to adjust your position to give fewer problems to your neck.

headache exercise 2 stretching your neck muscles

Headache exercise 3: Training your deep neck muscles

The third exercise focuses on strengthening the deep neck muscles at the front of your neck.
Many people sit with their heads forward. This can cause the muscles in the front of the neck to weaken because they are used less. It puts more strain on the muscles at the back of the neck, which can lead to overload. The overload can again cause headaches.

Research also shows that training these deep neck muscles leads to fewer headaches.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Lie on your back on a hard surface
  • Pull in your chin like you’re making a double chin
  • Hold this position and lift your head 2 cm
  • Hold this as long as possible
  • Repeat the exercise 5 times a day

In the photo you can see what the exercise looks like

When performing the exercise, it is about quality and not quantity.

As soon as you notice that you can no longer keep your chin tucked in, stop and rest for a while.

If you don’t do this, you’ll be performing the exercise with the wrong muscles, causing more tension in your neck, which will lead to more headaches.

The more often you have performed the exercise, you will notice that you can keep it up for longer. Ultimately, the idea is that you can hold it for about 20 seconds.

Headache exercise 3: Training your deep neck muscles

Headache exercise 4: Improving your posture

The last headache exercise aims at improving your posture when sitting. This puts a proportional load on your neck muscles, making them less likely to become stiff and cause headaches.

When you lean forward, gravity pulls your head down. To counteract this, your neck muscles at the back tighten. By pulling your chin in a bit, you automatically stretch your upper back and neck, tightening the deep neck muscles from exercise 3. This distributes the load on your head and neck over more muscles so that they are less likely to be overloaded.

In the photo, you can see the difference between a passive and active posture and what this does for your muscles.

Make sure to keep your head straight and don’t look down when you try to tuck your chin in. This puts more stress on your neck and neck muscles.

The exercise will feel strange at first, but it will feel more natural as you practice more.

Headache exercise 4: Improving your posture


As you can see, there are many exercises that can help relief your headache. If you still have questions after reading the article, feel free to send me an e-mail.