Getting rid of tension headaches --- Bliss!!!

If you are getting tension headaches, then it stands to reason there must be tension in you, somewhere. It also follows that if you remove the tension, the headaches go away. The following diagrams show individual muscles of the neck and shoulder and the area of pain associated with each one.

sterno-cleido-mastoid sternal part

Headache over and around the eye and/or in the temple. Can also bring pain to the top of the head and along the base of the skull.

It functions to turn the head down and to the opposite side. If you hold your head steady in a twisted position eg mechanics, data entry, machine operator, this muscle will be affected.

Self Help
Feel for the v-shaped notch at the top of the sternum. The scm attaches to the bony lumps either side. With thumb and forefinger either side of one of the bony lumps, turn your head to the opposite side. You will feel the muscle tighten under your fingers. Pinch the muscle and hold it while you turn your head back to centre. Hold for 30 seconds or until pain reduces by half.

scm clavicular

More intense and focussed pain than from the sternal head with sharp stabbing ache over the eye. Also soreness and tightness at the base of the skull.

Elevates the shoulder and also pulls it inward. We activate this muscle every time we think of our responsibilities. ‘I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders’.

Self Help
Tilt your head to the left (ear to shoulder) as far as you can. From there turn your chin up to the ceiling. You will feel a stretch in the right side of your neck. Hold 40 secs then repeat on other side.

upper trapezius

Headache pain in the temples, in the neck and behind the ear.

This muscle elevates the shoulder and also pulls it inward. We activate this muscle subconsciously every time we think of our responsibilities. ‘I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders’.

Self Help
Lift the shoulders as far up and in toward your ears as you can. Hold the tension for 5 seconds then let them drop suddenly. Allow them to fall without trying to ease them down.   Repeat 4 or 5 times.


Aches along top and bottom jawlines and in the cheeks. Also pain above the eyebrow.

The massetter is activated when we are constantly ‘chewing things over’. Agonising over decisions, ‘should I, shouldn’t I’.

Self Help
Do the biggest yawn you can (without anyone looking) and hold your mouth open wide for at least 10 seconds. Feel along the lower jaw for sore spots. Press your finger into the sore spot and hold until the pain reduces by half.


Most top of the head headaches are created by tension in this muscle.  Also gives pain above the eye.

Every time you raise your eyebrows or wrinkle your forehead you activate this muscle. When the eyes move, it activates as the first step in turning the head to follow the eyes.

Self Help
Using thumbs, find the base of the skull behind the ear. Press the thumbs into the tissue below the bone for 20 secs. Move the thumbs toward centre by a thumb width and repeat. Continue until thumbs meet at centre of back of head. This can be very tender. Only use pressure you can tolerate.


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