Self Care – Headache At Your Temple

Self-Care includes
Activities to avoid and change,
Strategies for quick relief,
Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…

Activities To Avoid or Change:

This headache at the temple one of the most active trigger points among clients. There are so many ways to activate the headache at the temple with a stiff neck. It is more problematic because the trapezius is hard to avoid moving during the typical day. If the stiff neck or headache is persistent, see your bodyworker for lasting relief.

A yank on the shoulder creates joint problems, which make this harder to resolve. A binding or mild separation in the acromioclavicular joint can perpetuate this trigger point activity.

If you sit at a desk with your elbows supported by armrests, this muscle will shorten, and the headache will usually lessen. Unfortunately, when you get up from the desk, this part of the trapezius will stretch as your shoulder drops. The headache will then get worse as the trapezius supports the weight of the shoulder.

These people often develop high, tight shoulders as other muscles tense to take the load off of the trapezius.

Chairs with the poorly fit right armrests get a lot of attention from therapists. Instead, they should deal with the underlying problem. Your goal should be that the trapezius shortens and lengthens comfortably, not that you buy special furniture.

Here’s a post that talks about both approaches to the ergonomics of working at a home or office desk.

If you have a mild shoulder joint problem, the second part of this post that talks about supporting the shoulder will work better.

For Temporary Relief:

When the focus of pain is mostly at the temple with tension in your neck, it is unlikely that you would think of massaging just above the collar bone to get rid of the headache. A little ice or heat on the fleshy part of the shoulder just above the collarbone helps to release this trigger point but seldom gives lasting relief to the stiff neck.

A little topical pain relief patch works well for lasting relief. These patches from Salonpas are a great value, effective, and clients seem to like the sensation in this spot. These patches don’t generate much smell and they offer lasting relief through the day when it gets aggravated from movement. Place the patch so that it starts right where her middle finger touches and lay it along that crest of the trapezius that extends up toward the neck. These are available in most grocery and drug stores or you can get them on Amazon.

These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. Some pain needs to be addressed by a professional. Some pain is not myofascial. You may employ these strategies improperly. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

If the neck is stiff when moved in almost any direction, there is more than one muscle involved. Try this stretching exercise. You can do it several times a day and may get satisfying relief, especially if there are some gentle clicks as you are stretching.

This post has one of the most effective and easy exercises to relax and lower your shoulders. It does a great job of releasing this trigger point.

If this exercise makes the shoulder or headache more aggravated and painful, see a professional for help, you may have a mildly separated shoulder.

This post has a protocol that is more intense than The Box but is better at correcting the structural problems of Forward-Head posture.

It is worth doing every day if you want to make faster, longer-lasting changes in how FHP perpetuates this pattern.

When headache in the temple is a chronic problem, I suggest a gentle 8-10 minute routine of shoulder exercises, three times a week. Five sets with about 1 minute in between. Pick exercises that drive the elbow up and back like; shoulder presses, upright rows, seated rows, posterior flyes, etc.

Nothing too heavy. Spend the first 2-3 weeks with lighter weight to avoid excessive soreness. Don’t have weights? Don’t want to go to the gym? Limited space? Shoulder work is easy to do with exercise tubing.

I’d love your feedback
on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
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Yoga Corner

Seated Lunge from

The upper trapezius lifts the collar bone and pulls the shoulder back, so twisting poses tend to stretch one side of the trapezius while lengthening the other.

Seated and lunging poses that twist to stretch hip rotators can work well for the upper trapezius. The back shoulder is closer to the base of the head and spine, contracting the upper trapezius on that side. The front shoulder drops down and slides around the ribs away from the base of the skull, stretching the upper trapezius on that side.

Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

Does another Self-Care post
better match your pain?

Here is the post about the trigger point pattern associated with these Self-Care activities.

Consider other trigger point patterns that refer into the temple or that create a stiff neck.

Is Your Neck Extra Stiff and Painful?

Sometimes, turning your head is strongly limited by pain. This indicates that more than one of the muscles that creates a “stiff neck” is involved. Check out these posts on a stiff neck.

In this case, if the problem does not resolve with home care, consider professional help from your bodyworker. They will offer quicker relief, have longer-lasting results, and keep you focused on effective self-care.

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

Is the pain from
degenerative discs or
trigger points in the muscle?

This post discusses the differences in pain from disc problems and pain from trigger points. Who should you see to help with your pain?

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.

Question? Comment? Typo?
(404) 226-1363

*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.