According to the American Chiropractic Association, most Americans—nine out of 10 of us—suffer from headaches, the greatest majority of which are caused by muscle tension in the neck as a result of all the time we spend behind a desk.
Pain anywhere in the body can disrupt your lifestyle, but research tells us that headaches affect more than just your head. Severe headaches can make you sensitive to things that wouldn’t usually cause pain (like wearing a hat or earrings), can cause nausea, disrupt concentration and even impact your sleep patterns.
The good news? Making small changes to everyday habits can help. Aside from making sure factors like adequate hydration and good nutrition aren’t a contributing factor, the biggest thing you can do to keep headaches at bay is to support the framework that holds you up—your spine. Below are four strategies to get you started on the path to fewer headaches.
1. Move More, Feel Better
While we sometimes think of the spine as a straight through-line holding us up, the truth is that our spines are flexible—they need to be able to move in all directions so we can bend, stoop and move comfortably through day-to-day tasks. Each vertebrae bends, rotates, flexes and extends on the one above and below it. Building gentle stretches and movement into your day will keep you from being “stuck” in one position too long, and keep everything in working order.
2. Proper Posture
Whether the majority of your day requires you to sit at a desk, stand at a counter or even move regularly, poor posture will take its toll. Slouching or slumping disrupts the natural curvature of the spine, causing additional stress on the muscles that support it. Returning to that same position day after day can cause the tightness that for many people triggers headaches. Setting check-ins or reminders to think about elongating your spine throughout the day, or building in regular breaks to move and reset into a better posture can help you develop good habits.
3. Get Strong, Stay Loose
Our skeleton is the base that the rest of our body is built upon, and it relies on the muscular system to stay supported and upright. Core muscles—including abdominal, mid- and upper-back muscles—take the load off of your spine, so it’s important to have a strong system working for you. But, equally important to building a strong support system is keeping those muscles loose. Most headaches are caused by tight muscles in your upper-back, neck or shoulders. A good regimen of warming up, cooling down and stretching focused on those areas can help keep them loose. Your physical therapist or chiropractor can also make a full assessment and help develop a plan that fits your unique lifestyle and needs.
4. Hands-On Help
The team of physical therapists and chiropractors at Orthology are experts at determining the root cause of pain and developing treatment plans that fit your lifestyle to help you get back to doing what you love. Whether your headaches stem from tight muscles in your neck and shoulders or misaligned vertebrae in your neck and spine, we’ve got you covered.
Ready to kick the pain in your neck? Book an appointment today.