My forehead was wrinkled in anguish, I could feel the tension in the back of my head. My occipitofrontalis was straining and I could sense it all the way down my neck and into my back. The wonderful discovery of the very happy pregnancy (see part 1) was now expiring in front of me as I experienced a miscarriage. You could see the stress in my forehead, the tension had created a constant dull headache, neck pain and, began affecting my sleep.
These symptoms are common and understandable when it comes to stress and traumatic events. Luckily, I knew I didn’t have to let myself continue to suffer. I had encountered an amazing remedy to help me release tension in my now very stuck occipitofrontalis. I had felt this sensation before to varying degrees, during other types of stressful situations, like when I had spent too much time on the computer in a position that wasn’t favorable to my neck or when I would tighten my face and head to help me hold difficult yoga poses or other challenging exercises.
Since this particular situation was understandably difficult to let go of, I needed to move beyond simply relaxing my face and use my trusted support team, my Yoga Tune Up® balls. I used the grippy texture to release tension in the frontalis area by taking one ball in my hand, placing it gently on my forehead and spinning it, so to spiral the skin and release the tension. I continued until I had completed the whole forehead. It felt great! My next step was to address the occipitalis area. The video below explains the technique I used. I would always end by continuing to allow my occiput to rest in stillness on the balls, close my eyes, and use the yogic complete breath, focusing on lengthening my exhale. Within a few minutes I could feel relaxation take over and my occipitofrontalis release, allowing myself to move past the event.
No matter the degree of stress or tension you have, I encourage you to test out these techniques and experience for yourself how the can help you reduce stress in your life.
Note: There is a very happy after story! I was able to easily enjoy another pregnancy discovery shortly after and am expecting a healthy baby girl July 2015. I look forward to teaching her the wig game, reading the signs on her little occipitofrontalis muscle as she learns to express herself and show her the tools to help ease this area when she faces times of stress.
Enjoyed this article? Read Hold Your Head High: Help For Neck Pain
Being a dentist, the skull, jaws and cervicals are my playground. Balls are invaluable tools for relieving pain, particularly in this area. Thank you for this article.
De lire votre article met à nouveau en lumière un outils thérapeutique que je connais mais que parfois j’oublie de mettre en application lorsque j’ai une douleur dans les occiputs suite a de longues heures passé devant un ordinateur. Merci pour ce petit rappel qui est une aide précieuse.
I really enjoy doing these roll outs when I notice neck tension but I also encourage patients to do it as a prophylactic. Are there any disadvantages of doing it regularly or how long can you spend on the balls at a time? I usually can tolerate about 2 minutes. I also appreciate your tip for bouncing from your lower body to keep the neck muscles relaxed.
When you say: “No matter the degree of stress or tension you have, I encourage you to test out these techniques and experience for yourself how they can help you reduce stress in your life” – yes, that’s what I needed to read again to remember how much really yoga helps me in my everyday life. My adventure with yoga has started not a while ago, because in October 2018, and the reason for me to start was stress. I respond to stress very easily and very strongly. Yoga helps me to keep emotional balance. Thank you for your helpful video.
I have had great success using Yoga Tune-Up balls and helping to support headache relief with a few of my clients.
The self massage of the neck is one off my favorite I will add the frontalis region to release more tension , thank for sharing your story .
I just read your previous article and was keen to see how you would relate the occipitofrontalis to stress reduction. Thank you for sharing your very personal journey. I remember when, during my YTU Level 1 teacher training, I “rolled” my forehead for the first time in my life. I did actually roll it out on the floor as we had an open 3 minutes to roll anything connected to the face and head in any way that we wanted. I couldn’t stop rolling up and down from my eyebrows to my hair line at the top of my forehead. And even though this might be far too intense for most people, I deeply enjoyed this massage and release of tension. Your article has helped me a great deal in understanding what I was actually doing when rolling my forehead in this “intense” manner! Thank you.
Hi Jennifer, Thank you very much for sharing a very personal story.
Occipitofrontalis, Self Massage for Your Neck With Therapy Balls is one of my favorite and how I fell in love with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls at first class to took last year. Since I started to attend weekly Therapy Balls class, I hardly get a professional massages any more. I am licensed massage therapist and now I can take care of my stress and body with Therapy Balls. Hope you are enjoying your motherhood.
Jennifer, thank you for including this video and your two-part explanation of occipitofrontalis and how it relates to frontalis and the superficial back line. I love the very simple idea of treating trauma very concretely and making sure the muscles that express it don’t get stuck. I found this article just now and thank you for letting us share in the happy ending, too. I hope that your little girl is enjoying contracting and releasing her occipitofrontalis!
Thank you Jen for sharing your story and your technique for releasing that tension. The video is helpful. I like the pin and spin on the forehead idea you suggested.
Loved not only your honesty in your experience (and your wonderfully happy ending/beginning), but the video in relation to the release you found and experienced. In the video loved Jill showing both an active and passive version of the stretch. I’ve done this exercise many times with other mediums (not tune up balls) and never worked with a passive stretch using the feet to create motion. Now that I have my YTU balls that is going to become a staple in my neck relaxation technique.
“My occipitofrontalis release”, i love those world, headache and tension was a commun group in my life. Bread, yoga and meditation help me a lot. But too many time had that feeling that something was missing. The massage with the ball on the occipitalofrontalis and i will all over the crane is a revelation for me. I find all the time to play with the ball in those part of the body that why forget so easily. Merci madame Jennifer Wende
Thank you for this! I do the neck treatment frequently, but until this afternoon, I had never used the balls on my face. While playing around on the mat with an alpha ball, I decided to try some compression on my frontalis – essentially rolling back and forth over the “botox 11’s” spot. Not long after, I came across your blog and decide to try the twisting – Wow! I love it not on the forehead but on the jaw and just under on the scalenes. I am definitely going to keep experimenting!
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. You’re so right we carry & express so much unknown tension in the face… Amazing how each day can be such an emotional experience and how those experiences get trapped in our muscles & tissues.
I am so happy you shared this and techniques to counteract it. I went through an incredibly stressful time and my face showed it. I am excited to try this out! Thank you
I have tried the technique myself and on students and it has always been a hit for neck pain. We spend more time with devices and facing computers that our posture gets neglected quite often. The balls just gets to the heart of it and has an immediate relief. I do think though that there should be a smaller sized ball particularly for the neck especially for a petite girl like me!
I’ve always loved this technique with the YTU balls on a block under the occiput. Now I understand why.
Thank you for sharing your good news.
Thank you for your post. I am a massage therapist and am highly skilled in working on the occipitofrontalis as well as the suboccipital muscles on my clients. It’s not something that I can do myself. I have found that the therapy balls can mimic what I do with my clients. With a little patience and breathe the balls help to unwind the tissues and in a short amount of time I can find personal relief. Along with my husband, who is a Chiropractor, I teach my clients these techniques for self care.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, although by now (June of 2016) you already have a beautiful child in your life.
I have tried the balls on the block and it is a great tool for me when the headache is mild. I will try rolling the ball across the forehead prior to lying on the block next time. Thanks for the tip
Ooooo I love the idea of pin and spin on the forehead and I can do that anywhere I go. For some reason, I was stuck on only sustaining compression in that area. Thanks for the tip….going to pin and spin now!
Great idea with therapy ball grip and spin technique all across the forehead. Release can’t help but come after that. So simple, so effective, so accessible to anyone with the furrow in their brow.
I experiences this exercise for the first time yesterday. GAME CHANGER! So great. I’m a little sore but it was totally worth it.
I did this exercise in my Teacher Level 1 class today and it felt so good !!! There are so many body parts we just don’t take care of. I will practice this rolling technique pretty often in the future without any doubt !
In doing these exercises, I could physically feel it behind my eyes. There was so much tension built up in my neck, jaw, and upper cervical spine I had no idea. At first, I thought all of my strain was kept in my hips, however I didn’t understand how much it took away from the range of motion. After taking the YTU class a few weekends ago, that realization came to fruition and my jaw/neck was released. I couldn’t be more grateful for being granted even more understanding of my body! Release that JAW!
Oh ya! I love this kind of YTU thereapy ball work. I used these exact techniques yesterday on a plane ride home and I feel awesome!. And, my husband ended up with a stiff neck after diving awkwardly into a wave and after a few days of rolling and using a heating pad, he’s nearly back to his full mobility 🙂
The occipitofrontalis muscle is really incredible – with frontalis “bellies” in the front and occipitalis “bellies” in the back, joined by the galea aponeurotica. It wraps around the head—so stimulation in the back and front are related. I love this ball exercise and understanding how it works is even more fantastic.
I loved the happy ending to your story Jennifer…little girls are such a joy! I also loved the release sequence you shared for the occipitofrontalis muscles. I couldn’t agree more with you about this certain stress showing prominently in our faces…but you have helped me to remember that I have the tools to do something about this. Good luck with your beautiful baby, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I am finishing the Teacher training Level 1 and it has been a tun of new information for me to absorb, but finally I start to see the light and the missing link between all the different techniques I have been personally exploring for years. In addition, I start to observe and “read” bodies in a better way and for the purpose of this blog, the occipitalfrontalis, I realise how much people, especially from the city – me to start with! – would benefit from a simple ball work exercise in this area! When I commute everyday I stop counting individuals who look so tensed up. When I go for a massage, I always make sure to ask the therapist to spend more time treating the base of the skull area, pretty much what Jill demonstrate on this clip! Now I can have this treatment as many time as I want and will definitely teach it to clients! Rock and roll it!! Cheers 🙂
I spend a lot of time at the computer for work, but neck pain is – luckily – not something that I find myself struggling with most of the time. That being said, most people have some underlying tension somewhere in their body that they are not even aware exists. Well, apparently one of my unrecognized areas of underlying tension is in the occipitofrontalis, both front and back! After reading this post, I also watched Jill Miller’s video about Self Massage for Your Neck with Therapy Balls. I applied the skin rolling technique to my forehead, and the cross-fiber and stripping techniques Jill demonstrated in the video to my neck. I think sitting at the computer for a few hours tonight to finish my Level One homework is going to be a little less of a “pain in the neck” after that!
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I hope to help my sister in law who has recently had a similar loss. Her stress level is so high and her health is suffering. I admire your ability to help yourself through a most difficult time and I am learning from you.
Best to you and your family.
I read your story and immediately shared it with my husband, who has the habit of wrinkling up his forehead almost all the time. He’s a very expressive guy! However, he also suffers from neck and upper back pain, and it was fascinating for me to make the connection between the stress in his occipitofrontalis and how it may contribute to the tension in his neck. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and personal article and great tips for releasing this tension with the YTU balls!
Thank you again Jennifer.
It was helpful to read about the occipitalis that I had never considered, and this one is so nice to read because it reinforces an area that I really enjoy rolling out- occipitalfrontalis. In both ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine stress in the body is associated with tensions held in the face. We can approach these tensions through the associated body parts… But I am so glad you have reinforced the value of addressing tension held in the face through the face! Thank you
Jennifer, My sincere empathy for your miscarriage and thank you for sharing so openly about your process and the tools that you used to continue self care. It’s interesting to experience the relationship between emotional stress and its physical manifestation upon the face. Thank you for sharing how using the pin & spin techniques on your intricate web of facial muscles helped you during your process.