Migraine can make daily activities difficult. Certain stretching exercises can help release the tension in the upper body and ease some migraine symptoms.

Migraine can cause painful attacks similar to headaches. However, migraine attacks usually involve only one side of the head and cause more severe pain than a simple headache. The pain people may experience during a migraine attack can make it difficult to keep doing their daily activities.

In many cases, migraine attacks may be so debilitating that a person who is experiencing one can only lie down and rest while they wait for it to pass. Doctors do not currently know the exact causes of migraine attacks, and there is no cure for migraine. However, lifestyle strategies and medications can help people manage migraine symptoms.

This article will review what stretches may help relieve migraine, how people can treat migraine, and how it may be possible to prevent migraine.

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Stretches and exercises that help release tension from the upper part of the body may aid migraine relief. This may help reduce the pain a person experiences during a migraine attack.

A 2020 study suggests that practicing yoga as an add-on treatment alongside medical treatment for migraine can significantly help with migraine management and is superior to medical treatment alone.

However, people should opt for easy stretches that avoid putting their bodies in complicated positions, as doing so may have the opposite effect on the migraine attack and increase the risk of injuries.

Learn more about migraine.

This yoga pose helps stretch the neck, torso, and back and open the chest. People can practice this move to warm up. It involves gently arching the spine.

To do it:

  1. Start on all fours.
  2. Keep the arms perpendicular to the floor, hands directly under the shoulders, and knees under the hips, leaving a gap between them.
  3. Look straight ahead.
  4. While inhaling, raise the chin, head, and tailbone while pushing the navel downward.
  5. Hold the position while breathing deeply.
  6. While exhaling, drop the chin to the chest, relax the tailbone, and arch the back up as much as possible.
  7. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  8. Return to the starting position.

Repeat 5–6 times before moving to another yoga pose.

This classic yoga pose can help reduce pain and relax the nervous system. It helps stretch the upper back and relieve stress.

To do it:

  1. Kneel with the forehead on the yoga mat, keeping the big toes touching and the buttocks resting on the heels.
  2. Keep the arms alongside the body and the palms facing up.
  3. Gently press the chest to the thighs.
  4. Hold and breathe.
  5. Slowly come up and sit on the heels.

Downward-Facing Dog is a well-known yoga pose. It is thought to promote blood circulation to the head and release tension throughout the body, which may help improve migraine symptoms.

To do the move:

  1. Start on all fours.
  2. Move the hands shoulder-width apart and the knees hip-width apart while keeping the spine in a neutral position.
  3. Press the hands and feet into the mat, with the toes pointing straight ahead.
  4. Lift the hips to straighten the legs, avoiding locking the knees.
  5. Create an upside-down “V” angle with the back and the legs. Press the heels toward the floor, although it is OK if they do not touch the floor.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds.
  7. Return to the starting position.

This exercise gently stretches and releases tension in the upper back and neck, which may help relieve migraine symptoms. People can do this stretch while sitting or standing, and they do not need a yoga mat for it.

To do it:

  1. Relax the shoulders while resting the arms alongside the body and keeping the spine in a neutral position.
  2. Move the right ear toward the right shoulder while extending the left hand toward the floor and flexing the left fingers upward.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side, moving the left ear to the left shoulder and extending the right hand.

This exercise stretches the upper back and releases the tension that may have built up in the shoulders. Releasing tension may help improve migraine symptoms.

To do it:

  1. Start on all fours.
  2. Move the hands shoulder-width apart and the knees hip-width apart while keeping the spine in a neutral position. Rest the tops of the feet on the yoga mat.
  3. Extend the right arm under the left arm, reaching to the left.
  4. Lower the right ear and shoulder to the mat without moving the knees and feet from their initial position.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the other side.

Migraine can cause symptoms that can make it difficult to keep doing daily activities. Doctors may prescribe medications to treat migraine, including:

People with migraine can also try some lifestyle strategies that may reduce the chance of migraine attacks and improve migraine symptoms when they occur. These include:

  • applying wet, cold towels or cold pads to the head
  • resting
  • drinking enough liquids
  • lying down in a dark room
  • avoiding noise

Learn more about home remedies for migraine.

While it is not possible to completely prevent migraine attacks, people can take some precautions that may reduce their risk of experiencing one, including:

Stretching and yoga can help release tension in the neck, back, and shoulders. This may be helpful for people with migraine, as releasing tension in the upper back may reduce migraine symptoms.

Stretching is more beneficial for migraine management when people do it in addition to medical treatment. Stretching regularly may reduce the risk of migraine attacks and improve the efficacy of the medical management of migraine.

A doctor can recommend the most appropriate types of stretching to reduce migraine symptoms while staying safe.