As many of us have had to make the transition to working from home for the third time this year, it’s important that we minimise our chances of developing a headache as we make this shift into yet another lockdown.
Unfortunately, due to working from home, poor ergonomics and a poorly set-up workstation is not uncommon and poor posture is becoming the new normal. This poor posture is leading to many developing joint misalignments in the cervical and thoracic spine, which can result in muscle tightness, joint dysfunction and in some cases nerve irritation. Over time, these joint misalignments, if not dealt with properly, can cause severe cervicogenic headaches, tension-type headaches and migraines.
Cervicogenic headaches often feels like a dullness or ache on one side of your head. It is often accompanied by neck pain and limited range of motion throughout the cervical spine, and the pain can be seen radiating down towards the shoulder.
Tension type headaches are the most common form of headache. The pain is typically felt on both sides of the head and often presents as a pressure or tightening sensation. This type of headache is often also caused by stress (whether that be physical, emotional or nutritional stress) and may cause tightness in your upper shoulder and neck muscles.
Migraines are a debilitating headache that unfortunately affect around 4.9 million Australians. The pain is typically a pulsating type on one side of the head and many sufferers may experience nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and/or sound.
Here are seven tips to help you correct your headaches at home:
- ERGONONOMICS – ensure that your workstation is set up right to reduce fatigue and strain on the neck and shoulders. Sit upright with the top of your screen at eye level. The shoulders should be relaxed, and elbows slightly closer in towards the body. Your whole back should be supported by the chairs backrest and feet should be placed flat on the floor.
- STRETCHES – stretching the neck and shoulder muscles helps reduce built up tension and will also help relive any headaches. It’s important to stretch the upper trapezius muscles, levator scapulae muscles and pectoralis muscles, as well as doing an exercise known as chin tucks. Do these every 3-4 hours, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds.
- MOVEMENT – taking regular breaks from your computer is important. Getting up every hour will help stop you from being in a static position for a prolonged time. It will promote oxygen and blood flow around the body, as well as get your joints moving!
- WATER – by staying properly hydrated, you can help prevent your chance of developing a headache. Be sure to take regular sips of water, getting in at least 2-3 litres of water a day. This will help in keeping your muscles relaxed and reduce the overall stress on your body.
- SLEEP – a lack of sleep reduces the body’s pain threshold, making it more prone to headaches. That’s why it is important to get your 8 hours of sleep, ensuring that your pillow and mattress are supportive.
- REDUCE DAILY STRESS – I understand that lockdowns can be stressful, but it is so important to reduce our stress levels as stress leads to tightened muscles and can cause sleeplessness. Both these factors increase your chance of developing a headache, but by removing stress, it can lead to a better quality of life. So be sure to do things to relax at regular intervals throughout your stressful day/environment, such as talking short walks outside, meditating in the mornings or before bed and adding colour/light to your workspace.
- CHIROPRACTIC – research has proven that chiropractic adjustments are a safe and effective way to treat headaches. Chiropractic adjustments have also shown to be more effective than massage in the treatment of headaches
Book in for a free Complementary Assessment at Karrinyup Wellness Centre to see if we can help you and your headaches. There is no obligation to proceed with care, however if we believe we can help you and your headache, we will complete a full body examination and assessment of your posture and spine. We utilise a wide range of techniques to help relieve headaches, as well as provide you with the information to help decrease your chances of developing headaches in the future.
Stay safe everyone!
Dr Emily Udiljak
- Bronfort G, Assendelft WJ, Evans R, Haas M, Bouter L. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001 Sep;24(7):457-66. PMID: 11562654.
- Chaibi A, Benth JS, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a study protocol of a single-blinded placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. 2015;4:779. doi: 10.1186/s40064-015-1567-5.
- Chaibi A, Benth JŠ, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine: a three-armed, single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. Eur J Neurol. 2017 Jan;24(1):143-153. doi: 10.1111/ene.13166. Epub 2016 Oct 2. PMID: 27696633; PMCID: PMC5214068.