Headaches are a very modern day problem. The create pain and misery and seem to come on for no reason. However, one very simple reason for headaches, are a tight neck and shoulders. These are often referred to as “Tension Headaches”.
Neck and shoulder problems are seen almost daily at The Reinge Clinic. Why oh Why do we get so many shoulder and neck problems and how does this lead to Headaches.
We wrote an article about back pain recently and how we have to keep our bodies aligned to stop us getting pain. Well this is the same for the head, neck and shoulder, but even more so with the shoulder, is has so much movement available making it easy to get out of alignment.
Why do we get shoulder pain?
Those desks are often the biggest culprit. As we lean over the desk our shoulders begin to round. In order to keep our centre of balance in the right place, so we don’t fall over, our neck follows also extending forward over time. This position of a rounded shoulder and forward head leads to chronic tightness in the shoulders and neck area and you can get some nasty headaches as a result.
The shoulder girdle is hugely mobile and likes to sit in free alignment. The muscles of the shoulder, back and chest affect the position of your shoulder. If the muscles of your back are weak and the muscles of your chest are strong, you will struggle to maintain a good upper body posture and pain will inevitably occur.
So what can we do about Headaches?
The simplist way to improve those tension headaches, is to improve your upper body posture. Simply put, you need to keep your head, neck and shoulders in good alignment.
Check out these top tips for achieving this pain free posture.
- Firstly, we need to Stretch the front of our shoulders…. we need to help these muscles relax in some way. You have two main options, you can stretch them or get a Sports Massage, but they need to be loosened.
- If you want to try the stretching route first, try this simple pec stretch using a door. The pecs are on your chest and when they get tight, they can create a rounded shoulder position. Stretching them will help to open up your chest. Animals, especially cats, always stretch when they get up after a nap or long time lying. Maybe you should give it a go?
- Once you have loosened the front with either stretching or a Sports Massage, we need to strengthen the muscles between your shoulders, known as your Rhomboids. They help to keep the shoulders in the right position. There are many strengthening exercises you can choose from, a quick Google search will show loads up. Here is one for you to try.
- Grab a resistance band and stand against a wall. Hold the band in your hands at about chest height. Keeping your elbows straight, slowly pull your hands apart, until they reach the wall. Hold it there for a count of 5 and slowly return the band to its starting position.
Bands are a great choice for home exercise. Theraband is still the main band used, but others work just as well. Usually Yellow is the lightest band and then it works through the colours, red, green, blue, black…… getting steadily heavier (harder work) as you work up the colour.
Yellow is a great place to start if you are weak. Start too heavy and you won’t use the right muscles, so it is best to start with the lightest and work your way up. As with all strength work do all the movements slowly so you activate lots of muscle fibres and don’t rely on momentum to complete the movements.
If you work at a desk a lot, a monthly Sports Massage will really help to keep that posture correct and stop you getting pain. If the above exercises don’t start to get rid of those headaches, give us a call and we will assess you and get to the root cause of the problem. Most headaches only take a few sessions to recfity so don’t be shy, give us a call.
Find out more about headaches and how we treat them here.
For more information on headaches generally, take a look at this NHS website.