The people in the study spent 75 minutes once a week doing the cobra, wheel, bridge, supine butterfly, swimmer's posture, and warrior, among other yoga poses. Not only will you increase your strength and flexibility with these poses, but you may also become more aware of movement habits you've slipped into that caused the pain to begin with, says study author Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute, in Seattle. To see how to do these moves, go to MensHealth.com/yoga.
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Instead of painkillers, try fewer pills, more sleep
Who would've thought that taking medicine to stop pain could actually perpetuate the pounding? This can happen with certain headache "remedies." "A medication-overuse headache can occur when people who have frequent headaches take painkillers 15 or more days a month," says Peter Goadsby, M.D., director of the headache center at the University of California at San Francisco. Doctors don't fully understand why it happens, but it appears to occur most often when people take compound analgesics--that is, medicines with multiple active ingredients, such as Excedrin (which contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine) or Tylenol with codeine.
Avoid the compound meds, and scale back using any pain pills as much as you can tolerate, Dr. Goadsby says. Strive for no more than two a week. Then focus on your sleep as a way of heading off headaches. The areas of your brain that contribute to your cranial pain are also involved in sleep, he says. By sticking to a strict--i.e., consistent--sleep schedule, you may be able to desensitize those trouble spots.
Instead of antidepressants, try retraining your brain
To fight depression, consider battling the negativity head-on. That's the thinking behind a DIY treatment known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). With this technique, you focus on controlling your reactions to certain thoughts and emotions--you learn to see them objectively rather than allowing them to sweep you away. In recent studies, MBCT proved to be as effective as antidepressants in preventing relapse, and more effective at enhancing quality of life. "When people stop taking antidepressants--and they often do because of side effects--they're vulnerable to relapse," says Willem Kuyken, Ph.D., of the mood disorders center at the University of Exeter. "MBCT gives people skills that help keep them well."
One MBCT technique, the "3-minute breathing space," is designed to help end the swirl of negative thoughts in your head. You start by focusing on how your body feels as well as on what you're thinking and feeling right now. Then you shift your attention to your breathing to bring yourself further into the present moment. Finally, you expand your awareness back out to your entire body while deliberately breathing in and out. If that sample feels effective for you, ask your doctor to recommend a therapist trained in MBCT.
Instead of sleep aids, try a few late nights