A Hack for Getting Rid of Neck Pain and Headaches

It's simple, cheap and takes seconds. We explain.

A rugby player getting his neck massaged.
You can get a myofascial release "double ball" for 15 bucks online.
Mark Metcalfe/Stringer

We tend to associate headaches with obvious lifestyle culprits: stress, sleep deprivation, dehydration.

But one of the most common reasons that headaches come ’round to ruin your afternoon is due to poor posture — and specifically improper curvature of the neck. The neck spine (also known as the cervical spine), is supposed to retain a natural C-shape. The curve helps to evenly distribute the weight of the head, absorb shock and enable range of motion.

Yet in the digital age — and amidst the most sedentary workplace ever — most of our necks are too often slanted forward, straining over screens. “Text neck,” or “forward head posture” puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the cervical spine…about an extra 10 pounds of stress for each inch the head falls forward.

Little wonder our heads hurt all the time. As an orthopedic surgeon once told us: “At [around] 45 degrees, your neck muscles are lifting the equivalent of a 50-pound bag of potatoes.”

What We Can Learn From the Mobility Routines of MLB Catchers
They’ve got the most dependable lower half in sports. How do they do it?

The Simple Solution

In order to “unflatten” your neck’s curve and thus reduce your risk of tension headaches, you’ll want to start by (a) practicing good ergonomics at the desk and (b) taking frequent breaks to walk around around throughout the day. Aim to increase your stand hours, basically.

You might also benefit from a bit of targeted mobility work, or “myofascial release,” which does a fantastic job of releasing trigger points in the neck (the area is particularly dense with fascia). One of our favorite methods to do so involves a “double ball” massage tool, which, as the name suggests, is just two lacrosse ball-type spheres mushed together. You’ve probably seen one lying around the gym before. They’re $15 online.

All you have to do is lie down on a mat with your knees raised and place this gizmo under your neck. Each ball will decompress either side of the spine as you ease into it. No need to get super technical here, just do what feels right: nod up and down, work it from side to side, etc. In time — anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes — you’ll start to feel some relief back there…and hopefully limit your chance of migraine that afternoon. Find a great tutorial here if you’re having trouble picturing it.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!