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Sports Physio Headaches and the Shooting Athlete


BY CATHY ARNOT USOC PHYSIOTHERAPIST


Many shooting athletes develop headaches. This often can be attributed to sustained positioning in upper cervical extension (rifl e), cervical rotation (pistol) or from recoil (shot- gun). There are many different types of headaches: tension or positional, recoil, migraine and headaches associated with secondary illnesses. The most common headaches I see with shooters are the tension and recoil-type headaches. These headaches generally present as pain at the base of


your skull which progresses around the back of your head to your forehead and even to your eye. This pain is due to pres- sure on the greater occipital nerve. This nerve exits at the base of your skull and gets pinched when the muscles in this region get tight and with positioning of the head in a forward head posture.


1. Treatment Common treatments for these types of headaches include


dry needling, manipulation, joint/soft tissue mobilization, ex- ercises, cool compresses and analgesics. Proper hydration and adequate sleep may help prevent headache. There are several treatments that you can do yourself if


you do not have access to a health care provider. The following exercises are being demonstrated by Nation-


al Development Team member Michael Liuzza. Tension and recoil headaches do not cause nausea, sen-


sitivity to light or aura. If you experience any of these symp- toms, you should be evaluated by your physician.


Treatment Techniques 1. Sustained stretch with a strap Palpate the base of your skull (occiput), then bring your fi n-


gers down about an inch and you will feel a bony prominence. This is the spinous process of your second cervical vertebra. Muscles that get tight and put pressure on the greater oc- cipital nerve attach from this region to base of your skull. To stretch these muscles, place a strap along this spinous pro- cess and bring your hands in front of you so that your arms are parallel to the fl oor. Pull forward with your hands and push backwards with your head until you feel a stretch at the base of your skull. You may need to look down a bit to get a good stretch. Hold the stretch for one minute, repeat 1-2 times.


54 USA Shooting News | March 2015


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