Poor posture can cause headaches

Picture of Dr. Daniel Gonzalez: Family Health Chiropractic
Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, D.C.

If you have persisting headaches, you may want to check your posture. Unfortunately, many jobs today require a significant amount of time hunched over a computer. We are also increasingly spending more time hunched over our smart phones or personal devices. The combination of increased sedentarism with increased poor postural positions can cause varying degrees of muscle strain to the body.

The strain on these tissues can increase tension in your neck muscles and the muscles that attach your head to your neck, also known as your sub-occipital muscles. The tension associated with these muscles can then lead to headaches. Ensuring correct postural alignment throughout your day can prevent these headaches from occurring (1). What exactly is proper postural position of the head and neck?

Proper postural alignment is any position where your muscles and connective tissues are under the least amount of strain. Your head, trunk, and thighs should create a straight line, and your shoulders should be back and relaxed.

If you want to improve poor posture, you have to be able to identify poor position. Common postural deficits include:
• Leaning the head forward
• Rounding of the shoulders
• Anterior tilting of the pelvis

Forward head posture and trapezius muscle tension, due to rounding of the shoulders, have been directly linked to the frequency and duration of tension headaches (2), (3) . Strengthening exercises targeting the neck muscles and the middle and lower trapezius muscles can correct forward head misalignment and rounded shoulders.

Individual ergonomic work environments, such as being hunched in front of a computer all day, can also impact posture causing tension headaches. It is important to be aware of what a proper ergonomic set-up is, and to implement any changes that need to be made.

Posture is, evidently, important in more ways than one. Poor spinal alignment can strain and pull on certain muscles causing chronic and persistent headaches to occur. Be conscious and aware of your posture on a daily basis.

(1) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1526-4610.1999.3901021.x/full
(2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00288.x/full
(3) http://www.postureatschool.com.au/files/2014/02/Use-of-Adjustable-Tables-and-Chairs-to-Correct-Student-Posture.pdf

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