Are Your Shoulders Giving You Headaches?
By Chuck Schulte, PT
Diamond Physical Therapy
Algonquin, IL 60102
Do you know that 47% of the adult population will have a headache at least once within a year according to the World Health Organization? 45 million Americans complain of headaches each year, 8 million visit their doctor, and 3 million went to the emergency room according to US Department of Health and Human Services.
Even minor headaches can be a nuisance that create stress, social and emotional impacts not only on the individual, but also on all those around them. A majority of headaches are related to tension headaches and are typically of a mechanical nature. This means that the muscles and joints in the neck and shoulders are strained, causing irritation and spasms that trigger headaches. These can be felt in the neck, shoulders, one side of the head or face, and even the forehead.
The large shoulder muscles around the scapula (shoulder blades) play a large role in supporting the neck. Having proper posture, movement and support of the neck and shoulder musculature is the key to having a healthy neck. In today’s environment sitting at the computer, staring at mobile devices, sitting for prolonged periods and more, weakens the muscles of the shoulders and upper back.
What you can do to relieve tension headaches:
- Proper posture – Having good posture with sitting, typing at a computer, standing and working all play a part in how you use your neck and shoulder muscles throughout the day. Take time to examine and make sure your posture is what it should be.
- Vary your tasks – If you sit for hours each day at a computer, make sure to give your muscles frequent breaks. You can do other productive tasks in standing or moving around the office.
- Exercise – Strengthen the muscles of the mid back and shoulder blade areas. Exercises such as rows and pull downs can help strengthen weakened postural muscles. Exercise also helps release endorphins, which can counteract stress.
- Handle your stress – Handle tasks and obligations one at a time and get them completed. Piling up tasks, even small ones, draws your attention on them and creates stress.
- Watch what you eat – avoid foods, which can affect your body’s acidity level such as processed foods, excessive sugars, and high fat meals. Eat a little better and drink more water. Your blood chemistry will be more balanced throughout the day. In fact, a big cause of headaches is chronic dehydration, so keep a glass of water by your desk during the day and constantly drink.
A little prevention can go a long way to relieving headaches. If you suffer from tension headaches, migraines or other forms of headaches, know that there is relief! Call us today for a neck posture, strength and mobility examination to pinpoint the exact cause of your headache. We can give you the tools to handle your headache easily and effectively. Life doesn’t have to be a headache! With the right physical therapy you can get back to the activities you love to do, pain-free.