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Posted on 02-09-2016
Every day we see people coming in complaining of headaches that start in either the neck of the back of the head at the junction between the top of the neck and the base of the skull. They often complain of very tight and achy "shoulder" muscles too. (They are usually pointing at their upper trapezius muscles and not at their shoulders, but this isnt anatomy 101 and it doesnt matter :)
More often than not, people say "Thats where I hold my stress and tension". They will take medications like tylenol or ibuprofen, some are hooked on Excedrin (hello liver problems), and others just deal with it as long as they can until the break down and "have to come in".
I would estimate a solid 70% of these cases in our office deal with the typical office posture, you know, sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen for hours on end, maybe hunching a phone between your shoulder and ear on occasion. It is really simple what happens here; your lower back flattens without a good lumbar support (and good core muscles), the mid to upper back hunch forward, then the head has no where to go except forward. All this extra pressure and tension on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments on the back of the head creates joint pain that ends up resulting in neck/"shoulder" pain and headaches.
Step 1: Fix your posture. Sit up right/tall. Have a good lumbar support. We use the Back Huggar with our patients. It works great. (We carry this product)
Step 2: Get adjusted (and possible do some deep tissue muscle work). You dont have to do this a ton, but if you are on a solid program of maintaining your body, you will find something that works for you....monthly? quarterly? bi-annually? Your body will talk to you and let you know what you need.
Step 3. Corrective Exercises: Each case is unique and this depends on how much genetics plays a role in your particular issue with posture/alignment. We usually incorporate physical exercise/stretching into our patient's daily routines and we try to make it something that is doable....meaning, we're not going to give you an hour's worth of stretching and say do it 3 times a day. Yeah...we know...that aint happenin. (and I wouldnt do that either). A few key stretches for your specific problem. That's the key. Easy, repeatable, and specific to you.
Posture is key to feeling good. Studies have linked posture to a number of health benefits. Here is a read from a few years I ago I enjoyed.
Take care and be mindful of your posture. Remember your mother saying "Sit up straight!". Well....she (like usual) was RIGHT! :)
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