It may be brought on by a hectic day at work, or a rowdy afternoon with the kids, either way, a throbbing headache is never welcome.

But the next time you start feeling the pressure, you may like to try something else before reaching for the paracetamol.

Aesthetic specialist Dr Jane Leonard says relief can be found in resting a pencil between your teeth.

'This is an exercise to try to relax the chewing muscles, which are in spasm in TMJ dysfunction,' she told Express online.


Leonard explains that tension headaches are triggered by stress, tiredness, anxiety and emotional upset which can manifest initially as spasms in facial muscles, and in the neck, jaw and scalp.

Holding a pencil between your teeth could help with jaw tension. Photo / Getty
Holding a pencil between your teeth could help with jaw tension. Photo / Getty

"Patients often hold their temples to indicate where the source of the pain is," she said.

"This is due to spasm of a fan-shaped muscle found across the temples spreading [across] the back of the head called temporalis."

The spasms can also be a sign of temporomandibular (TMJ) joint disfunction, caused by jaw clenching and teeth grinding during sleep.

Other studies have also linked headaches to increased neck pressure, amplified by poor posture.

According to physiotherapist Julie Sugrue, head and neck muscles largely refer pain to the head.

"'These muscles are used for many activities such as moving the head, maintaining posture, eating, talking and facial expressions."

Sugrue says bad posture and increased neck tension can cause "knots" to develop in the muscles which then cause referred pain to be felt in the head.