The joints at the top of the neck under the skull (sub-occipital region) are sensitive to your head being poked forwards for any length of time. So too are the muscles that will be holding your head in that position.
Have you ever thought of your head as a bowling ball? Poised on top of your neck? Well, at 5.5 kg (plus or minus a bit for some) – it pretty much is. Poke it forwards and not only do the muscles through your thoracic spine having to work over time, so too are the muscles at the base of your skull, and your joints in that region will also be undergoing a lot of stress. The change in angle can create a load on your thoracic spine that is builds to nearly 20 kg – instead of the 5.5kg it should be when poised on top of your shoulders.
That’s often the cause of the headache source.
Where you can do
Start by working on your posture. Get a good quality office chair and ensure it is supporting you in a manner that makes you want to sit back in it with your back rested.
Sit up tall – this elongates your spine, opens the joint spaces and helps to relax the muscles further. Now the trick here is to then hold that position. All day. And, you need to have good mobility through your thoracic spine as well as your neck to be able to do this well.
How can a physiotherapist help? CORE’s approach? Target not only the point of symptoms (sub-occipital region) but also the cause. This often involves loosening the thoracic spine joints as well as muscles. This helps significantly. So too does strengthening the postural muscles – that’s the effort you need to put in to build your endurance and to regain control.
Headaches though can come from a lot of different sources, so a thorough assessment is always required first to ensure that there are no other factors contributing to your symptoms. From there, a short course of treatment can often assist you in a long term resolution – and will provide you with the strategies you need to minimize this becoming a recurring problem.
Need help? Think this might be you? Book in and talk to one of our CORE Physiotherapists and try and get to the source of the issue.
Donna McCook – Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist and one of our Exec Directors at CORE has over 25 years of clinical experience in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, and works extensively in the area of Back and Shoulder Pain Treatment and Rehabilitation. Donna is available for appointments at our Corinda, Banyo and Beenleigh clinical sites. Read more about Donna McCook and the rest of our team here.