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‘Dancing with the Stars’ six-time champion and judge Derek Hough (above) has developed a series of simple movement routines to help proactively manage headaches and reduce migraine attacks. Richard Harbaugh via Getty Images
  • “Dancing with the Stars” champion and judge Derek Hough is spreading awareness about how people can prioritize their health to help them reduce headaches and migraine attacks.
  • Hough has joined the Head Care Club campaign, which shares information about how non-pharmacological methods like nutrition, mindfulness, and movement can help aid head health.
  • Hough and his fiancé Hayley Erbert created movement routines to help support headache and migraine prevention.

Derek Hough is known for his incredible moves, choreography, and judging skills on the hit show “Dancing with the Stars.” Now, the Emmy Award-winning professional dancer is sharing movement with the world in videos to support head health.

“We all know there’s nothing worse than having a headache or migraine during the day,” Hough told Healthline. “For me, if I’m about to go live on stage or a tour or on television or right now for a tour, I’m creating it…[and if] you’re foggy, you got a headache, it just kills the whole the creative process.”

He also feels the pain his fiancé and fellow dancer Hayley Erbert feels when she suffers from migraine attacks.

“Seeing someone you care about and love in discomfort affects you. You want to help. You want to serve them and be there for them,” said Hough.

The couple has teamed up with the Head Care Club by Excedrin to spread awareness about head health and ways to care for oneself between headaches and migraine attacks.

The program offers a series of free videos and resources on topics like nutrition, mindfulness, and movement routines to support everyday head health, all approved by board-certified neurologist Dr. Deena Kuruvilla, director of Westport Headache Institute.

“The everyday lifestyle choices that we make can help determine whether head discomfort will occur or not,” Kuruvilla told Healthline. “Getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule, eating balanced and consistent meals, and staying hydrated are a few of the many proactive measures we can take to help mitigate head pain and support our head health more holistically.”

While there is the misunderstanding that migraine ends when the pain ends, she noted this is not the case.

“Many migraine episodes/attacks can result in lingering challenges well past the migraine itself,” said Kuruvilla.

Dr. Brian M. Plato, neurologist and headache specialist at Norton Neuroscience Institute, agreed. He said to think of migraine like other chronic diseases that require lifelong management, such as type 2 diabetes.

“[Migraine] is an incurable condition, but can be managed by medications and lifestyle changes. So yes, these lifestyle and behavioral changes can be beneficial in managing migraine,” Plato told Healthline.

Medication becomes necessary when migraine attacks become either frequent or severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and non-pharmacological strategies are not providing sufficient benefits, he added.

“Medical management of migraine is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach, and oftentimes I tell my patients there may be some trial and error involved. You don’t always hit a home run with the first swing, but we try,” said Plato.

Eating a healthy diet, avoiding fasting, and staying well hydrated are important for head health, said Plato.

Kuruvilla recommended avoiding personal food triggers, such as aged cheeses, processed meats, and nuts.

Eating foods high in magnesium may also help reduce migraine attacks.

“Additionally, ensure you eat balanced and consistent meals, making sure not to skip out on regular snacks and meals,” she said.

As far as mindfulness, Plato said more and more research about mindfulness-based meditation as an important tool to manage migraine is proving to be positive.

For instance, one study found that after learning mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) skills, participants reported altered pain and migraine perception and experiences. Additionally, the researchers found that mindfulness may help with fear of migraine, pain catastrophizing, and anticipatory anxiety.

“With high stress as a leading cause of head pain, it’s super important to embed mindful practices into our lives that help destress and relax. Meditation and breathing exercises are great ways to help calm our minds and bodies,” said Kuruvilla.

Engaging in aerobic exercises, such as jogging, swimming, and walking a few days a week can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks or headaches, she added.

“Plus, exercise releases endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers,” she said.

While vigorous cardiovascular exercise can help, Plato added that less-strenuous stretching and yoga are beneficial too.

The videos Hough and Erbert created for the Head Care Club include exclusive movements based on their own daily wellness routines. The routines involve aerobic motions to get the blood pumping, oxygen flowing, and breathing increased with the intention of increasing the heart rate.

“For me, a big part of head health is getting the circulation going, getting everything moving and activated,” said Hough.

The goal of the aerobic video is to move at your own pace, and it is not about perfectly emulating what the couple is doing.

“[When] in doubt, shake it out,” said Hough. “If you’re like ‘I’m not sure how to do this particular move,’ if you ever get to that point or place, just start shaking your body and have fun with it because that’s what it’s really about, it’s moving the body.”

They also created a restorative yoga video that emphasizes stretching and elongating the body with a focus on breathwork.

“I think that’s what people forget as well is we think movement is just movement…but breath is such a physical action with your diaphragm, with your chest, with your body, with your mouth, with the back of your neck…the movement of all of those things are there to support your head health on a day-to-day basis and it’s being more proactive versus reactive,” Hough said.

He stressed that anyone can participate in the stretching videos.

“You don’t have to be a dancer to do these things,” he said. “I actually show these very simple things I do every morning…Before I get out of bed, I roll my ankles, I activate my knees, I get my joints going — my wrists, my elbows, my shoulders, just simple rolls…it basically opens up the whole body.”

While he and Erbert demonstrate the movements, they lead lightheartedly.

“We actually played around a bit too,” Hough laughed. “We do this couple yoga where we were like trying to see how we can use each other to help each other stretch out and we tried some different things and some didn’t work out or feel good, but we found something that feels gentle and is really for everybody, there’s no difficulty level.”