There are many reasons why people get headaches, but I will focus on a very common reason why some people get headaches on a frequent basis.
Many people experience headaches that start in the back of the head and seem to radiate to the front of the head and behind the eyes. Sometimes, the headache skips the back of the head and settles only in the front of the head and behind the eyes. Often times, this type of headache is mistaken for a migraine, when it truly is not.
Headaches that originate in the back of the head are most often due to “postural imbalance.” Muscles in our body need to work together in an equally balanced manner, so when one group is working too much or not enough, this gets our attention.
Headaches in the back of the head that result from postural imbalance can occur, for example, in people who have a job that requires them to sit on a daily basis for prolonged periods of time. Sitting for a prolonged period of time often leads to slouching, which causes the muscles between the shoulder blades and along your mid back to become over-stretched and weak. Slouching/prolonged sitting also leads to tight/shortened stomach, chest and back of the neck muscles.
In particular, when the muscles in the back of the neck become tight and shortened, this places pressure on a nerve that travels up the back of the head. When there is pressure on this nerve, it creates a headache in the back of your head that can radiate to the front and behind the eyes at times.
In addition to the headache, many people experience a “burning” sensation between the shoulder blades or along the muscles on either side of the spine.
So how do you stop these headaches?
There are a number of things that need to be done to stop the headaches caused by postural imbalance:
Reverse the muscle imbalances, stretch/elongate the tight muscles and strengthen/shorten the muscles that are elongated. This releases pressure on the nerve traveling up the back of the head, which resolves the headache.
Have your workstation analyzed to be sure it is set up correctly in a way to keep your posture erect.
Take breaks from sitting every 15-20 minutes even if it is just to stand and stretch or take a short walk. Just change positions frequently.
Sit in a kneeling chair or chair with a lumbar roll pillow to keep your lower and upper back in the correct posture.
Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy’s expert Physical Therapists will show you how to reverse your muscle imbalances, adjust your workstation and find proper seating so that you can return to pain-free living. Call our office today at 717-245-0400 to set up your free screen (15 minutes in a one-on-one visit with a physical therapist) so we can explain how we can help you resolve your headaches.