Headaches found to be coming from the cervical spine respond very well with conservative treatment. A multifaceted approach using a combination of manipulation, myofascial release, stretching, and strengthening exercises will provide the best results. Breathing patterns must also be addressed because it has an impact on everything we do in our daily life.
Chest breathing involves raising the chest every time a breath is taken in. It’s commonly seen but it’s something we want to get away from. The reason for this is that every time the chest is used to breathe in, accessory breathing muscles around the neck (traps, scalenes, SCM, etc.) are recruited and they are constantly contracting. These muscles, which are already tight and contributing to the head and neck pain, never have a chance to chill out and relax! Instead of using the chest, focusing on using the belly to breathe (aka diaphragmatic breathing) will allow these muscles to relax and ease the tension felt around the neck.
Manual therapy approaches like Active Release Technique and soft-tissue tools will help break up adhesions and scar tissue that forms over time to speed up the recovery process. Manipulation is another great way to address any restrictions found in the spine, improve range of motion, and decrease pain.