Hot Topics from Atlanta PT

Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques

/
Posted By
/
Comment0
/
Categories

By: Samantha Holland PT, DPT, MTC

By improving your posture, you can alter the intensity, frequency and duration of your headaches. As discussed in the previous headache blog, the focus of physical therapy intervention for headaches primarily involves treatment of cervicogenic and musculoskeletal headaches. These kinds of headaches originate from mechanical origin. Therefore,

One of the primary ways to improve the health of these structures is to address postural abnormalities. For instance, poor posture can result in short and tight or long and weak muscles as well as myofascial trigger points. Implementing appropriate exercises can help reverse these changes and normalize your system. Fortunately, there are fairly easy headache self-management exercises you can add to your daily routine to significantly improve your quality of life!

How to Reverse Poor Sitting Posture 

The 3 main aspects of reversing poor sitting posture in the upper body include: reducing the backwards bend in your neck, limiting your head jutting too far forward and rounding in your upper back. The following 3 exercises target these abnormal findings, respectively.

For each exercise you will see a starting position picture and an ending position picture to better explain the movement. 

Increasing neck strength to improve posture:

  1. Deep Neck Flexor nods:
deepneckflexorstart - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
Start position
deepneckflexorend - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
End position

Video: https://youtu.be/Zn_kKi8G_Tc

  1. Cervical retraction:
cervicalretractionstart - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
Start position
cervicalretractionend - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
End position

Video: https://youtu.be/3DxNSd0Gatk

  1. Scapular retraction
scapularretractionstart - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
Start position
scapularretractionend - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
End position

Video: https://youtu.be/LrBW-B6cYC4

Improving Spinal Mobility to improve posture

Another important aspect of postural restoration is improving mobility in stiff areas. Generally, most everyone could use more mobility in the front of their shoulders. For example, you become more stiff when you spend more time bent over your phone, the steering wheel or your desk at work (or home!). Furthermore, if you don’t have the correct strength, gravity doesn’t help. Gravity does not make it “easier” to sit upright. Subseqeuntly, sitting in a  slumped position decreases your thoracic or mid back mobility, limiting how much extension you have in this area. In addition, these impairments also set you up for the development of trigger points that can cause referred pain felt as a headache. Try these mobility exercises to help combat the onset of musculoskeletal headaches. 

Mobility Exercises:

  1. Thoracic foam rolling: 
  1. Pec doorway stretch: 
pecdoorway - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
Stand with your forearms and hands flushed with a door frame. The height of your hands can vary. However, placing your elbows at shoulder height is a good place to start if tolerable. Next, gently step forward while keeping your forearms on the doorway, until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder or pec region. This should not be painful but a strong stretch. It does not matter which foot your step forward with, but feel free to switch the leading foot halfway through the stretch. Recommended 1-minute hold. 

  1. Self-trigger point release: 
selftriggerpoint - Headaches Part 2: Improve posture with these techniques
Sit or stand with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball in the back of your shoulder. Try to place it on the inside or medial border of your shoulder blade, in the muscular part between your shoulder blade and your spine. The ball can really be placed in any muscular area of this region that feels tight or where there’s a trigger point present. Apply direct pressure by leaning into the ball- keep breathing. You can support your arm with the side not involved like you see in the picture in order to help your shoulder relax. You can keep sustained pressure or gently move around to roll the ball in the region you want to treat. Recommend ~1 minute in each area, however discontinue if too uncomfortable. 


Check out our website Atlanta PT for more blogs and our YouTube channel for more exercise videos!

Leave a Reply