Self Care – Headache at the back of your head

Self-care is focused on stretching and avoiding compression of the neck just under the skull. The trigger point will release and the headache/tension is relieved when the upper and mid cervicals are able to move without binding restrictions.

The semispinalis muscles stretch from the lower thoracics up to the cranium. They vary in their attachments but this illustration represents the common configuration. As you can see these muscles straddle and compress the suboccipital region, where this pain is focused.

Also, this connection will sometime produce the click of a rib head, usually C3, that releases when stretching the back of the neck.


Avoid postures where you jut your chin forward and compress the top of the neck. This is more than just looking at the computer. This also happens to people like counselors that lean forward to listen or people that watch screens up high in airports. You get the idea.

This pillow with the built-in ice pack from Amazon can offer relief, especially, if you tuck your chin. It is great when you are seated but it’s better to use these standard cloth-covered ice packs if you like to lay on the ice. One of those is included with the pillow if you want both options.

Click here for guidelines on using an ice pack safely and effectively.


This stretching routine is very helpful. First, do The Box at the top of your neck. Pay extra attention to the back of your neck at the top. Take note of where the skin is most sensitive to the ice and movement is restricted. Next, do The Box on the lower half of your neck. Then, revisit the sensitive and tight areas on sides and back at the top of your neck with another round of ice and stretch. Really tuck your chin and open up the area under the base of your skull.


If this problem persists, see a bodyworker who is skilled with upper cervical problems. Sometimes, the atlas and C5 need a little more than stretching to free them up so that these muscles can relax and stabilize, especially when this problem has persisted.

and some related posts…

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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