Selected Podcast

Headache Hacks: Lifestyle Strategies for Prevention and Relief

Empower yourself with a holistic approach to headache prevention and relief. Explore practical lifestyle strategies, including tailored stretching routines and low-impact exercises, alongside the transformative benefits of chiropractic care. Learn how these combined approaches can significantly reduce joint irritation and muscle tension, providing a comprehensive solution for a headache-free life.

Headache Hacks: Lifestyle Strategies for Prevention and Relief
Featured Speaker:
Jacob Brandman, D.C.

Dr. Jacob Brandman graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He provides care for musculoskeletal conditions, sports-related injuries and work or motor vehicle injuries. Dr. Brandman provides instruction on home stretches and exercise to help improve overall function and range of motion. He also works with his patients on lifestyle and nutrition strategies for overall personal health.

Dr. Brandman mixes his chiropractic specialties with health coaching to assist patients in getting back to pain-free lifestyle.

Headache Hacks: Lifestyle Strategies for Prevention and Relief

 Joey Wahler (Host): It's an effective alternative treatment method, so we're discussing seeing a chiropractor to address headaches. Our guest is Jacob Brandman. He's a chiropractor with Wood County Hospital. This is Health Matters. Insights from WCH medical experts. Thanks for joining us. I'm Joey Wahler.

Hi there, Jacob. Thanks for being with us.

Jacob Brandman, DC: Thank you for having me.

Host: Absolutely. Thanks for hopping aboard. So first, I'm curious, do you think most people associate a chiropractor with treating headaches?

Jacob Brandman, DC: I would say that it is not as common as what I think it should be. A lot of times people are having a lot of extra tension in the back of their neck, and they don't necessarily say, "Oh, I need to go to a chiropractor." A lot of the times people think about going to a chiropractor is usually associated with low back pain, but we also do a really good job with helping with headaches as well.

Host: So, what would you say the biggest misconception is that people have about headaches?

Jacob Brandman, DC: I would say that most people have, I would say, an issue with the way that they associate why their headaches are happening. Because it's such a multi-faceted problem, it's a lot about lifestyle, the way that you live your habits. A lot of that can play a big part into why the headaches are actually coming. There's some genetic factors too. If you have a family history of it, you are a little bit more prone to experiencing it yourself. So, it's really having the, I guess, the full understanding of what a headache is and actually the type of headache that you're having.

Host: And speaking of which, you led me beautifully into my next question. What are the various types of headaches and what triggers them?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Yeah. So, there's lots of different types. Primary headaches are things like migraines, cervicogenic headaches, which is headaches that arise from the neck. And then, there's also the tension headaches. Now, those types of headaches are their own type of category. There's other types of headaches that can be associated with other comordities that people might have. So, that's why when we're diagnosing it and trying to help our patients out as much as we can. We take a very thorough history to make sure we understand the nature of what the headache is.

Now, a migraine, you know, usually, it's going to be more on one side of the head that almost feels like a throbbing type of sensation. It can be pretty severe and sometimes. It can even, well, make you turn off your lights and not listen to a thing. Tension headaches and even neck headaches can be kind of closer to more of like this dull aching sensation, kind of feels like a band across your forehead. You just like this kind of overall pressure. Those are really the differences that I would say mostly signify like the difference between those two. Sometimes there's even things like sinus headaches where you got all this sinus pressure in the front. But usually, those have other symptoms too, like far as like congestion or, you know, just kind of cold, flu-type symptoms.

Host: And so, at what point would you recommend that someone see a chiropractor like yourself?

Jacob Brandman, DC: So if you've been dealing with headaches on and off for a while, and you've never had any help before with it, if you're trying to be proactive about it and try to get ahead of it, even if you're having a headache too, if it's something that is familiar to you, I think it's a good time to call a chiropractor.

Sometimes what can happen is we just want to make sure that it's not the type of headache that is more of a medical necessity, like you need to go to like an emergency room. So if it's something that's severe, very sudden, that's when it's better to go towards the medical side of things, just to make sure that it's not anything more severe than that. If it's more of something that you're used to or something that you've been dealing with for some time, or maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and all of a sudden you've got a headache, your neck hurts and all that, that's a good time to go to the chiropractor.

Host: Which underlying physical problems can headaches be a sign of?

Jacob Brandman, DC: It kind of depends. Everybody it's a little bit different. Stress is usually a big cause to a lot of headaches, environmental stressors, that type of thing. And so, underlying causes, I mean, there's so many different forms of headaches. But oftentimes, it's the way that we're sitting on a daily basis, the way that we're standing, moving around, the types of foods that we're eating, the types of activities that we involve ourselves with. A lot of times, people like to have a little text neck where they're looking down all the time. That's causing all this increased pressure and tension. So really, our lifestyle has a major factor into it.

Host: Absolutely. Let me ask you to pick up on one of those thoughts, posture. People underrate good posture, don't they?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. And it's one of those things where it's that sustained long-term posture to where it's okay if I bring my head down, but if I'm there for three hours straight because I'm working on a report, then that's where the problem lies. There hasn't been any movement, our bodies are really designed to move. And if we're staying in this long-term posture to where I've got my head forward, I've got just the weight of the back of my neck holding up my head, where technically I'm supposed to have a balance between the two, those are the types of things that really throw our systems off. So, trying to make sure to get up as often as you can, especially in the work day, I know it's hard, but even if you have to stand up for a couple minutes and just kind of move your head around a little bit, move the shoulders around just to kind of give yourself a posture break, that can make a big difference for somebody that is more prone to having headaches.

Host: Gotcha. So, let's talk treatment compared with, say, medication, which many people use for headaches, what alternative headache treatment can a chiropractor like you provide?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. So, with going to a chiropractor, we're really good at making the intensity of the headaches go down and how often they happen. If you're having an acute headache, I'm not going to tell you don't take your ibuprofen or Tylenol, something that helps bring it down. But if it's something that is coming back and back again, it's a good idea just to kind of get your system aligned, get everything nice and balanced, and that will help reduce how often you're having to deal with those things.

Host: When you talk about alignment, you mean, for instance, back, right?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Yeah. Back and your neck. Overall, it really comes down to the balance of your system. So, muscular imbalance is something that, if your muscles are a little bit stronger on one side versus the other, it could change the way that the spine ..Functions. And so, having a combination of the joints being able to freely move and also have that muscular balance is where you find the balance for your system.

Host: Because we're talking, of course, mainly about headaches here, but a back out of line can cause various issues physically, right?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. It can make somebody that's, let's say, a pro athlete drop to their feet because it can be so severe to the point to where you're not able to function throughout your day as well as you would like to, and even in situations where you almost have to call off work because the back hurts so bad. It's one of those things to where finding balance within, of course with your neck, but with your overall back and everything else too, it's finding that balance, making sure that the system's functioning the way that it should.

Host: It's almost like the foundation of a house, right? Everything stems from there in a way, yes?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. I like to put it too, to where if a joint is not moving to its fullest degree, then the muscle is always going to be in a position where it's having to compensate in a different way. And our muscles are very complicated. But if one thing is not moving right, well, there's another part of the body that has to take on that slack.

Host: How about a typical session with you to treat headaches? What can somebody expect?

Jacob Brandman, DC: So, first appointment is usually a little bit longer. It's usually between 30 to 45 minutes. I'm asking a lot of questions, I'm doing a lot of tests, making sure to see how the system is moving, making sure about your family history, asking more questions about where the headache is at, what might have caused it. I'm asking lifestyle questions to see if there's any triggers that are a part of your common habits, and really trying to get down to where the source of the headache is at. After that, once we've established it, we'll either do a treatment on that day or the following visit, we'll get started with some treatments. And typically, I'll see how the system is moving that day, where's things tight, where's the joint restrictions at, get things moving, using a chiropractic adjustment as my primary source of treatment, but we also have other types of modalities as far as like exercise therapy, electric stimulation. And we also have different types of tools too that can help get things moving a little bit easier, just depending because everybody's a little bit different. We try to take a really custom tailored approach with everybody that walks in.

Host: Absolutely. Now, you mentioned there, adjustment. For those that have heard about that and don't know what it is because they've never had one, what do you do?

Jacob Brandman, DC: So if the joint is restricted and it's not moving in its, let's just say fullest capacity, I find joint basically where it's stuck. I'm putting it into a kind of a position to where I'm allowing that joint to be pushed into the right direction. So, that's where we talk about alignment to where if the joint is able to have its full range of motion, then it's not in a position that's restricted. If it's stuck, I find where that stuck spot is at, and I put a little bit more motion into it.

Host: You touched on this a little bit earlier, but if you had to narrow it down to one or two, from your experience, when we talk about lifestyle strategies contributing to preventing and alleviating headaches, what are a couple of the things people may not think enough about that they can do, that they can control to make that happen?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. So, stress is a big one. We live in a very quick and fast-paced moving world. So, a lot of times people don't take that 15, 20 minutes a day to-- I'll be a little crass here, but it's go and touch some grass, where they need to actually like get outside of like this fast-moving world and actually just take some time to just most of us enjoy the day, or even just have some time for themselves. Sometimes I even mention things like meditation and prayer can play a good tool into that to help kind of encourage that slowing down. Things like hydration is a huge one. So many people are walking around with not enough water in their systems. And half your body weight in fluid ounce is what I always recommend. And to make that, easier if you weigh 160 pounds, then at least half a gallon is around the amount of fluid that your system should be taking in, and a lot of people aren't doing that. Another one would be sleep. Sleep is very, very big. Making sure that you set up your sleep environment so that way your bed, your bedroom, that's really what its main job is. You're not doing extra office work or any extra homework in there. That's the job of that location. Trying to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day and trying to get around that seven to eight-hour window.

Host: And so if we do all those things, you're saying we'll never get a headache. Now, I'm just kidding.

Jacob Brandman, DC: So, I like to think about it kind of like a glass of water, right? And all the triggers is the water. That cup can hold so much and it will be okay and it will hold all that water just fine. But if it starts to overflow, that's where the headaches seem to, well, happen a little bit more frequently.

Host: A couple of other things, what role do food triggers play in causing headaches and how can those be avoided?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Yeah. So, there's a whole list. You can actually look it up online for common foods that cause headaches. I know off the top of my head, chocolate is one, wine is another, caffeine sometimes, because sometimes, especially if you're used to drinking caffeine and then you stop, you can get kind of like what's called a caffeine withdrawal headache. There's a whole list of foods though. And everybody responds to these things a little bit different. I'm not telling you don't eat chocolate for the rest of your life or anything like that. But if you notice that every time that you're eating a certain food, and it seems to be on one of those lists that I mentioned, then it might be a good thing to try to experiment. Take it out of your diet for at least a week or two, maybe three, and see if that has any effect on the headaches. If it does have an effect, maybe skip the chocolate, and stick to the other things. But if it doesn't have any effect, I think it's okay to bring it in a little bit again. And if it doesn't have an overall effect on your headaches, then it's one of those things that maybe is not something that's affecting you.

Now, with the food triggers, everybody's body is a little bit different. And so, it could be the property of the food itself, or it can just be how your body is actually responding to it. And so, keeping like a food diary is something that I think is a really wise idea. And even just like if headaches is something that you struggle with consistently, I call it just a headache diary. that way you can say, "Okay, I've seen this list. I did eat this maybe two or three days ago. My sleep was good. So, it was not my sleep. I was hydrated. So, it's not my water. So, maybe it is that food that's a part of it. Maybe I'll try taking that out and see what that does for the headache diary."

Host: I mean, you have a record of what you've been eating in case a chiropractor like you asks, right?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Exactly. Exactly.

Host: And so in summary here, Jacob, why would you say patients should consider seeing a chiropractor for headaches?

Jacob Brandman, DC: Absolutely. So, I think a lot of the times, again, we live in a very fast moving paced world, and a lot of times people are ready to take care of others, but not as much to themselves. And I think by getting the appointment, having the discussions about the headaches, talking and figuring out maybe what some of the sources are, I think, is a really crucial element of it. But also if your neck, your posture, or just the way that your system's moving is having any influence on it at all, a chiropractor is a really good place to get that sorted out.

Host: Well, folks, we trust you're now more familiar with seeing a chiropractor to treat headaches. Jacob Brandman, valuable information indeed. Thanks so much again.

Jacob Brandman, DC: Thank you for having me.

Host: Absolutely. And for more information, please visit Now, if you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social media. I'm Joey Wahler. And thanks again for being a part of this edition of Health Matters, insights from WCH medical experts.