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Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

If you suffer from severe headaches accompanied by disturbances in vision, nausea and vomiting, tingling in your extremities, pain in your temples, or sensitivity to light, you might be experiencing migraine headaches. These severe symptoms can be debilitating and negatively affect your quality of life.

The Migraine Research Foundation indicates that migraine headaches are common. In fact, approximately 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine headaches. Thus, if you suffer from migraines, you won’t be surprised that they are the 8th most disabling illness in the world.

According to researchers, there is hope for migraine sufferers. This study published in the International Journal of Yoga, indicates that when yoga is combined with conventional care, migraine headaches can be reduced in intensity and frequency. In this study, patients practiced yoga 5 days a week for 6 weeks and they kept a yoga diary. The practice included loosening and breathing exercises, postures done with awareness and Shavasana (corpse pose).

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If you’re a migraine headache sufferer, you will discover that the findings below are astonishing and could improve your quality of life.

Yoga Improves Quality of Life of Migraine Sufferers

Doctors measure the impact of migraine headaches on their patients’ lives by using the Headache Impact Test (HIT). It assesses the level of disability in a patient’s life, from little or no impact to severe or disabling impact. In the study mentioned above, the patients had a HIT score of more than 60. Consider that 78 is the highest number possible; therefore, migraine headaches were severely impacting their lives. The study concluded that those who combined yoga with conventional care had significantly lowered HIT scores. Thus, their quality of life was significantly improved due to combining a yoga practice with conventional migraine headache therapies.

Yoga Increases Vagal Tone in Migraine Headache Patients

The study also found that yoga, which was combined with conventional care, resulted in reduction in sympathetic tone as well as increased vagal tone. It is hypothesized that those with improved vagal tone have fewer and less severe migraine headaches. Many researchers theorize that yoga improves vagal tone by regulating the nervous system. Vagal tone refers to the activity of our vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in our bodies, and it controls many functions, but particularly heart rate. For example, those who have strong vagal tone, such as athletes, have a slower resting heart rate.

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Yoga Reduces Stress in Migraine Headache Patients

In addition, the study indicates that slow, mindful exercises such as yoga are beneficial to migraine sufferers due to the stress reduction that this type of exercise provides. Stress can play a big part in triggering episodes of both migraine headaches and tension headaches. Numerous research studies indicate that yoga reduces stress and anxiety and increases feelings of well being. In fact, this study which examined the effects of exercise on stress, found that those who practiced yoga were much less anxious, tense, depressed, angry and fatigued.

How Do You Get Started with Yoga?

Before beginning a new exercise program, you should always consult a doctor. After you’ve been given clearance to begin, you might find that yoga can be confusing because of the many different styles and levels.

If your goal is to reduce migraine headaches and you’re a beginner, look for classes such as stress-reduction yoga, integrative yoga therapy, restorative yoga, gentle yoga, Hatha or Kundalini. There are many other suitable styles as well. It’s best to discuss your goals with a yogi at your chosen studio or health center of choice.

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You can find many gentle yoga classes at local health clubs, hospitals and yoga studios. And, some instructors will teach you yoga at home. Sometimes it takes time to find a studio and instructor that’s right for you, but don’t give up because the instructor can greatly influence the quality of your experience.

The gear is fairly simple. It’s imperative that you have a yoga mat. Many studios provide them for you, but sometimes at a rental fee so it’s a good idea to purchase one. Generally, you will use yoga props such as blankets, blocks and bolsters, and the yoga studio typically provides them.

Yoga isn’t meant to be a fashion show so focus on comfort when choosing your attire. Ensure your clothing allows for easy movement. Pants that are specifically designed for yoga are helpful because they typically don’t slip down or slide up while performing poses. Avoid zippers, buttons and drawstrings, as they can feel uncomfortable during certain poses.

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The most important thing to remember is that yoga is not a competition and you shouldn’t feel as though you’re being judged. Relaxation, mindfulness and your well being are important aspects. The focus is on you, your breath and your energy.

Namaste.

Featured photo credit: Syda Productions via shutterstock.com

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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