Part two: Posture related headaches
According to Eric Christensen, DPT at Chandler Physical Therapy at his headache workshop, a common pattern that exacerbates headaches is called “upper crossed posture”. We call it “head forward posture”, or you may have also heard it called “text neck”. The shoulders are rounded forward, the neck is stretched out in front of the body and the head is tilted up or down. Did you know that our heads weight 11-14 pounds? That is a lot of weight for the neck muscles and spine to support when in a forward head posture position!
This position is very common when the body is in a stressed state. The tendency is to curl up in a fetal position for primal protection, which only makes the pain pattern more exaggerated. This pattern will out stress on the upper neck muscles and subocciputal muscles at the base of the skull. It will also stretch the SCM muscle in the front of the neck.
If this pattern sounds or looks familiar, a combination of Neuromuscular Therapy for trigger points and Myofascial Release Therapy for tight connective tissue may be the answer. Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) works to correct the tight patterns in the connective tissue that develop over time due to repetitive motions or positions. Sitting at a desk all day on a computer, for example, is a very common pattern. The connective tissue surrounds the muscle, and the muscle can only move within the space it’s given by the connective tissue. When the muscle is limited in movement, trigger points and adhesions can form, creating even tighter muscles and more pain.
If you find yourself at a computer all day, make sure to set a timer for every 30 minutes and get up and walk around. Staying in these tight, repetitive patterns all day will only reinforce the pain cycle of headaches.
Want a great neck stretch while sitting at your desk? Check out our video on our YouTube channel.