Posture and headaches
This one is pretty obvious, but relevant, particularly if you sit at a desk for the majority of your day. Forward head posture can be a major contributor to headaches as it increases stress on the upper cervical spine as well as the muscles around the neck/shoulders. A simple correction is tucking your chin back, doing this regularly is a great start to correcting your posture at work.
Scrolling for hours on that phone giving you a headache or neck pain ?
Sustained flexion for long periods may lead to neck pain and/or headaches. Over time sustained flexion positions will lead to weaker neck muscles and can change the length of muscles. This may also lead into having a forward head posture discussed above.
Stress and headaches and neck pain
Constant tension in the neck is one of the most common complaints when people come in with neck pain. Most often due to stressful situations or work-related stresses.
Sometimes correcting work ergonomics can help, making sure your elbow/forearms are supported on the desk can help reduce tension in your neck.
Often those with chronic tension in their shoulders/neck have developed a weakness through their mid back and postural muscles, a simple exercise to help correct neck tension in sitting is to sit up straight and squeeze your lower shoulder blades together (like a V shape) – this engages your postural muscles and will help switch off the neck muscles under constant tension.
Check this blog out for examples of suitable exercises.
Jaw clenching and headaches
Jaw clenching can not only create pain in your TMJ (jaw) but can also increase tension on your upper cervical spine (upper neck) and can be a cause of headaches.
For those stress clenchers, postural exercises as above can help, but my #1 tip would be whenever you can yourself clenching – push your tongue up into the roof of your mouth.
This will stop you clenching down on your TMJ as you are then pushing up and cannot clench at all or as hard – if this correction is done regularly it can be very effective in breaking a jaw clenching habit.
Jaw clenching at night while sleeping can be a more difficult issue to solve and may involve a night splint if it’s causing chronic pain.
Headaches or neck pain when you wake up ?
We see a lot of people with neck pain and headaches who are stomach sleepers. Sleeping on your stomach can be a cause of neck pain and/or headaches as often your neck is in a sustained rotation to one side for 7+ hours which can increase the pressure on your neck joints on one side.
If you often wake up with neck pain and/or headache which goes away during the day, sleeping may be contributing to this. As hard as it is to break a habit, it can be done!
Try to train yourself into side sleeping, and make sure your pillow creates a happy neutral position for your neck. You may still find yourself waking up on your stomach, but the more you continue to correct your sleeping position you can change it for good.
If you have problems with neck pain or headaches you can book in to see us here