Can Bad Posture Cause Migraines?
Can bad posture cause migraines? As a child, most people would had heard their mother telling them to “stand up straight”. As it turns out, standing up straight and having the proper posture not only helps to prevent backpain, it also helps prevents migraines!
According to a study by the National Headache Foundation, millions of Americans aged 15 to 55 suffer from migraines. The study points to the fact that this population is often slouched over a screen of some sort, whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or a smartphone, and the prolonged slouching position builds up the pressure around the neck and the head. It’s important to note that with every inch that the neck bends forward, an extra 10 pounds of weight is placed on the muscles of the neck!
What are Migraines and How to Diagnose Them Properly
The problem with diagnosing migraines is that it can be difficult to differentiate them from a headache. Pain tolerance is often subjective between one person to another; what can be tolerable for one person can be intensely painful for another. In general, however, migraines are described by intense and frequent headaches that feels like a “thudding” along a side of the head.
There are generally two types of migraines:
- Migraines with aura – this type of migraine is known as the “classic” migraine. The feeling of the pain is triggered by sensory disturbances known as auras. These triggers can include flashes of light, ringing in the ears, or blind spots in your vision.
- Migraines without auras – in contrast, this kind of migraine comes without any of the classic trigger. However, there are other accompanying signs that can signify the onset of a migraine without auras, such as sleepiness, craving certain types of food, or dizziness. It is often more difficult to diagnose this type of migraine because there are no classic signs that accompany the onset of the pain. Migraines without auras are also called silent migraines.
If you are experiencing intense headaches on a regular basis, it is best if you consult a physician to know whether you are, in fact, experiencing migraines.
Migraines and Your Body Posture
So now let’s go back to the original question: can bad posture cause migraines? While there are no studies that show a direct correlation between the two, there is an increasing amount of evidence that shows that bad posture does influence the frequency of migraines.
People who suffer from frequent migraines also report tenderness, stiffness, and weakness around their neck and upper back. Since these people also confess to having poor posture because of extended periods of slouching, sitting, or looking down, it is thought that migraines can be caused by the build up of tension around the head, neck, and shoulders. The longer a person is sitting or standing with bad posture, the more frequent and intense their migraines become.
Considering Your Daily Habits
Have you ever tracked how long you are looking down on your phone, or how long you sit in front of your computer? Your daily habits also have a direct affect on your posture. Yes, it can be difficult to keep track of how long you’ve been in a single position, but on average, office workers spend around six and half hours sitting in front of their computer and around three hours looking down at their phones. That’s a long time to be stuck in a position that puts enormous strain on your neck and shoulders! Aside from the neck and shoulders, being stuck in a poor postural position also puts a strain on your spine. In fact, your spine will often compensate to alleviate the strain put on your neck due to poor posture, which is why upper back pain is also a common symptom for people who experience migraines.
If you feel that you often lose track of time when you’re in front of a screen, you need to incorporate postural breaks during your routine. A good rule of thumb is to have a fifteen-minute break every two hours sitting in front of a screen to stand up, stretch, and relieve the pressure on your head and neck.
Other Tips to Help Prevent Postural Migraines
Here are four tips that you can keep in mind to help you prevent getting migraines due to bad posture:
- Place a reminder – a visual reminder is a great way to keep proper posture in mind. Place the reminder at eye level in your work space or bedroom so that you can remember to sit up straight and lessen the strain on your neck and head.
- Invest in ergonomic props – there is an abundance of ergonomic chairs, tables, and other furniture that can help you maintain proper posture and lessen back, neck, and shoulder strain when you’re sitting in front of your computer.
- Exercise your neck and back muscles – to further reduce tenderness and pain, perform exercises that will help strengthen your neck and back muscles.
- Stretch regularly – this may sound like an obvious solution but getting up and stretching for just five minutes can help bring you significant relief from neck and shoulder strain. However, make sure that you are doing stretching exercises properly and safely to prevent further injuries.
Even though there are many studies on the relationship between migraines and posture, there is no definitive evidence that can answer the question, “can bad posture cause migraines?” However, there is no denying that there is a link between the two. Millions of people who suffer from migraine report that a huge chunk of their day is spent with their body in poor posture, especially with regards to the orientation of their head, neck, and shoulders. As such, it is still a good idea for your health and wellbeing to strengthen your neck muscles, take postural breaks, and have ergonomic materials in your home and work place. Learn more about postures.
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