When it comes to headaches, the list of possible causes can run longer than the Great Wall. And with the staggering number of people suffering from headaches, the reasons are sure to vary. In developed countries, nearly 33% of men and 50% of women are affected by chronic tension headaches, with one in twenty people experiencing them every single day.
While everyone will experience a headache from time to time, this is different than the reoccurring tension headaches that can be damper, if not debilitate, daily life. If you personally suffer from tension headaches, the odds are good that you have done your research on their common causes. Most often you will find factors like lack of sleep, dehydration, eye strain (such as staring at a computer or phone screen for too long), as common culprits for tension headaches.
But what happens when you've made adjustments to address each of these factors and you still find yourself suffering from tension headaches? Perhaps there is something you haven't tried yet. If you're downing your daily dose of water, have taken it easy on the screens, are getting enough rest, and so on, but still find yourself suffering from tension headaches, you might want to consider your posture.
While it isn't widely discussed when it comes to tension headaches, posture can play a huge role in your overall health, headaches not excluded. Poor posture, commonly known as forward neck lean, is a common culprit when it comes to these tension headaches and can fly under the radar if not addressed, wreaking havoc on your body.
Forward neck lean occurs when the chin drifts out over the chest in a forward direction, positioning the head out of alignment so that it no longer rests above the shoulders, but over the chest. In looking at the profile of someone with forward neck lean, it may seem as if their head juts out ahead of the body, putting their neck at an angle instead of an upright, vertical position. This common posture problem creates a myriad of issues that plague the body and your overall health.
Think of it this way. The human head weighs an average of 11 pounds, and for every inch that your head is leaned forward, multiply that by the number 11. The result is the amount of pressure that you are putting on your spine, which in turn causes strains in the muscles and the neck area. As the head moves forward, some muscles become shortened and tight, while others become over-elongated and weak. As they weaken, they are also having more demanded of them, working harder and harder to fight the effects of gravity as they are constantly trying to pull the head back to a more aligned position. This constant strain and fatigue can lead to all kinds of issues, headaches being one of the more common ones. With so much constant stress on the muscles in and around the head area, it's no wonder that a chronic ache would begin to develop.
If you have dotted your I’s and crossed your t’s and are still suffering from headaches, forward neck lean could be the root of your issue. There are always many factors to consider, such as diet, general life habits, and more, but with forward neck lean affecting between 66 and 90% of the population, it's worth taking into consideration. With so much time spent on cell phones, or hunched over computers, it's no wonder that such a large percentage of the population is affected by forward neck lean in some way. With an equally large percentage simultaneously suffering from headaches, we would be unwise not to consider posture as a potential cause.
The good news about forward neck lean is it is something that can be corrected overtime. Correcting posture can not only ease headaches but can also lead to a droves of overall health improvement, such as better blood flow, better balance, clearer thought, TMJ recovery, and more. This, however, is something that needs to be done under the supervision and training of a professional. If you are interested in finding out how our physical therapists can help you address your forward neckline and improve your quality of life, please reach out to us today!
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