When a Pain in the Neck Becomes a Pain in the Head
Nobody likes being in pain, especially from headaches. It turns out your mom was right when she told you not to slouch… There’s a connection between poor posture and headache frequency. ‘If someone has chronic headache pain, [we find] he or she often sits in a slouched, head-forward position,’ explains Dr. Merle Diamond, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. ‘That aggravates the muscles of the head and neck and can lead to more muscle spasms and more pain.’ Doctors call these cervicogenic headaches, and they can cause something called ‘referred pain.’ While the problem may originate in your neck, it’s the back of your head that aches.
Tension-type headaches are often due to muscle irritation in the neck; the resulting headache is often felt around the area where the muscles insert at the base of the skull. ‘The head is essentially a 10-pound structure, If it’s not balanced on the top of your neck and shoulders, it can certainly aggravate the cervical spine and trigger muscle tension, and muscle tightness. This can lead to spasms or the development of headaches.
Sit up straight, feel better.
“If you already have neck problems, you may be one of the unlucky people predisposed to these headaches. One study found that people with joint or muscular abnormalities in their heads and necks were more likely to suffer from both tension and migraine headaches. However, if you tend to get headaches at the end of the day, poor posture may be the culprit.
Improving your posture and strengthening your neck and shoulder muscles can make a big difference—in clinical trials, people who did posture and strengthening exercises reduced their headache frequency.
“At work, make sure that you’re sitting straight, not hunched over, and take regular breaks away from your computer. Finally, implement a regular stretching routine into your day. Even a simple series of neck stretches (tilting your head to the left, then right, forward and back, for example) helps. You’ll reduce your chances of leaving work with stiff shoulders and an achy, pounding head—and your mom will compliment you on your new and improved posture as well.”
And after all this, remember that massage has been shown effective in relaxing tense muscles that may be contributing to posture problems and headaches!
One of the great benefits of massage is that it can help you maintain a better state of health naturally. It’s always a good thing when you can reduce the levels of residual toxins in your body rather than adding new ones—and massage can help to do that.
Make your regular massages a high priority and help your body stay as healthy and happy as possible. See you at your next appointment.