Headaches are a common problem today in society. What some people may not realise is that our everyday activities, like our posture, our phone usage and our sleep patterns that may be causing these headaches.
A common cause of headaches is poor posture. Many desk workers and students have a slumped posture in which their head comes forward in front of their body. At the same time, the shoulders may come forward and the back can become slumped. This posture puts stress on structures in your neck and the back of your head, which can lead to headaches.
This poor posture is also mimicked in people who text a lot, called “texting neck”. People with this posture may spend a lot of time looking down at their phone, which can put strain on the back of your neck, causing headaches.
So, how can we reduce this behaviour?
The first step is recognising the problem as often as you can. When you’re at your desk or texting, bring your attention to your posture so that you can change it.
Better desk posture
To engage in better desk posture, first look at your desk and chair height. Ideally, you want your chair to be at a height that allows your arms to be at a 90 degree angle with the desk. You should also shuffle your bottom towards the back of the chair, so that your lower back is supported. Alternatively, you may use a lumbar support tool.
When sleeping it is important to maintain the natural curve of the lower spine. The best sleeping position for your spine is on your back, with the option of having a pillow under your knees. This position is good for maintaining the curve of your spine and taking pressure off your back. If you suffer from low back pain, keeping a pillow between your knees may also alleviate pain
The next best position is sleeping on your side, with your head supported by a good-quality pillow. Good pillows have a curve that support the neck.
The worst position to sleep in is on your stomach. Stomach sleepers need to sleep turned to the left or right to allow breathing, this also puts the neck into an extension position for a prolonged period of time, hence leading to headaches.
Poor neck posture due to texting is a very common problem! Studies show that this problem is most common in the younger generations, including teenagers and university students. When you text, the act of bending your head forward constantly puts additional strain on the structures in the back of your neck, which can lead to a ‘hump’ in the top of your spine, as well as chronic neck pain and headaches. Excessive phone use can also affect the muscles and joints in your hands, in particular your thumb.
For this reason it is important to be aware of your posture when using your phone. Ideally, you should hold your phone up in front of your face rather than looking down at it constantly. You should also try to avoid checking your phone for long periods of time, in order to avoid chronic pain.
An exercise you can also do to try to strengthen the back of your neck involves tucking your chin back toward your neck (giving yourself a double chin)- this can help to strengthen the back of your neck and offset some of the side effects of poor posture.