The Link Between Posture and Neck Pain and Headaches

You know the feeling— when you wake up, it’s the first thing to greet you. When you go to bed, it’s the last thing you think about. Small movements throughout the day act as reminders of its presence. Achiness and fatigue seem to dominate your waking hours. 

If you’re struggling neck and shoulder pain from poor posture, you know just how much havoc it can wreak on both your body and mind. Who would have guessed your parents were doing you a favor when they told you not to slouch? 

Posture not only affects the way your body feels in general but can also be a key contributor to some pretty nasty headaches along the way. The good news? This is totally treatable with the right conservative care. 

Your Posture And Pain: Neck And Shoulders

Though poor posture can certainly stem from chronic injury cycles, it can also arise from normal lifestyle choices. From labor-intensive jobs to desk jobs, you may be susceptible to poor posture if they aren’t mindful of your form. If you experience upper body tightness and neck strain after a long work week, you may want to look at your posture at work— and how you relax at home.

The tricky part is the symptoms from poor posture compound over time, slowly. If you find yourself with your head gazing down for long periods of time or slouched over – like at a computer or reading on a mobile device– this puts undue stress on your neck. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons within and around the neck can become strained and the pressure can lead to some wicked tension headaches. These headaches can feel dull and achy and often get worse when turning your head from side-to-side. In more severe cases, disc degeneration can even occur. 

Think about it this way: poor posture (also known as ergonomics) forces certain muscles in your neck and shoulders to overwork in an effort to compensate. And while one day of poor posture isn’t going to be too much of an issue, years upon years of it can actually cause some serious damage when left uncorrected. 

Proper Posture At Work

In general, most people with desk jobs struggle to maintain good posture throughout an entire workday and workweek. This is in a big part due to the fact that we were made to move, not to be as sedentary as some of these jobs seem to encourage. However, we know that the modern world makes a good amount of this work a necessity. So how can you ensure you have a healthy posture throughout your shift?

One main solution to this is quite simple: move. You just have to be intentional about it, as this usually isn’t built into the job description. What does this mean?  Take many small walk breaks. You can make these breaks as a lap to the bathroom, the water cooler, or to say hi to a co-worker. Take simple opportunities to move and use these moments as a chance to reset and check in on your current posture. We promise, the more you do this, the more habitual it will become. 

Depending on your office policy, you can also look into using a sit-to-stand desk. The subtle differences between sitting and standing have been known to not only help engage different muscles to maintain good posture but also boost productivity. Score!

How To Build Long-Term Proper Posture 

Maintaining good posture is a long-term game. Just like one day of poor posture won’t do you in, one day of good posture won’t correct years of doing it wrong. To reap the benefits from good posture, practice and consistency are key. 

Practice Proper Form And Ergonomics

Shoulders back and down. Head gazing straight ahead. Abdominals engaged. Lower back flat. Most of us know how to engage our bodies in proper posture, however, the trick is being mindful enough to maintain good form throughout our busy days, especially when we start to get tired. Practice proper form by bringing yourself back to the present during small movements throughout the day. For example, when you bend over to pick something off the ground, do you round your back and get a headrush when you stand back up? Or, do you squat, engaging your abdominals, while keeping your back straight? Psst: the correct answer is the latter. 

Consult With A Medical Professional

When you’re beginning a new health routine, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional first. Your practitioner can help make sure that there aren’t any bigger underlying issues at play that you may not see, and also help to customize your plan for you. That’s important! Each of us brings different health histories to the table, so a one-size-fits-all approach is never the answer when you’re looking for long-term health solutions. 

Stay Mobile – And, Get In A Routine

Again, we know that this one sounds simple, but it’s important! Our bodies were made to move – so use ‘em! Staying active in general will encourage mobility and grant many other health boons along the way. 

There are also some great, simple at-home exercises that you can employ to help encourage your posture. Again, your medical professional can help you figure out the best exercise routine to implement for where you’re at in your journey.

How Chiropractic Can Help Your Posture

Through the use of adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities, chiropractic can help to realign the body and provide relief that can be so desperately needed to help correct poor posture and maintain good posture. Stiffness in one area of the body can affect so much more than just that one area! Chiropractic care can help not only address the pain points you may be experiencing from poor posture but also help give the rest of your body the attention that it also needs through this process.

These gentle adjustments help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and allow healing to take place. By working consistent chiropractic care into your routine, you can help your body maintain better posture, therefore increasing your overall quality of life. That’s a huge win-win. Your practitioner can also help you work in appropriate at-home exercises to accelerate your progress outside of office hours.

Whether you’re looking to tackle your posture problems or are looking to get help proactively, chiropractic care can help. Schedule your appointment online or call (626) 469-7478.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.


Is It A Migraine, Tension Headache, or ‘Just’ a Headache?

Is It A Migraine, Tension Headache, or ‘Just’ a Headache?

Headache pain: dull to throbbing, splitting to burning. There’s no denying it, a headache is enough to ruin your day or for some, sideline you for days. Just what causes headaches and why do some seem to be more prone to pain than others?   

In this article, we discuss the four most common types of headaches: migraines, cluster, tension, and cervicogenic, common triggers, and your best treatment options. 


Migraine pain feels like a strong, often one-sided throbbing pain radiating from deep inside your head. The pain can last several hours to many days. Migraines may also make you sensitive to sound and light or cause nausea and vomiting. One in five people also experience “auras,” or disturbances in their vision just before the onset of a migraine. Typical auras include flashing or sparkling lights or stars, zigzag lines, or even blind spots.

Anyone can get a migraine — adults, children, men and women although women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. Migraines often run in families and are also associated with certain nervous system conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep disruption, dehydration, hunger, specific foods, hormones, and exposure to chemicals can all trigger a migraine.

Treating Migraines

Typical over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen often don’t provide relief to migraine pain, leading doctors to prescribe triptans or drugs that decrease inflammation and change the flow of blood within your brain. Medications that decrease the number of migraine occurrences may also be prescribed, although they do not address the source cause of your headaches. 

Chiropractic treatment, in contrast, gets to the root of what’s causing your migraine. Focusing on the body’s alignment, particularly the spine, eases pain and improves your body’s mobility. 

Though individual treatment plans will vary, chiropractic care focuses on determining the specific characteristics of your migraines. Many patients respond well to adjustment– moving, stretching, and gently placing pressure on the spine, allowing the body to heal naturally.

Cluster Headaches

If you’re experiencing severe burning, piercing pain behind one eye or on one side of your face along with swelling, redness, and sweating, you’re likely experiencing a cluster headache. Other symptoms include nasal congestion and tearing eyes on the same side as the headache.

“Cluster” headaches get their trademark name from typically striking in a series, (or cluster) with each headache lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. During a cluster, most people report one to four headaches each day, often for months at a time. In the months between clusters, most people are completely free of headache symptoms. 

Interestingly, cluster headaches are three times more common in men than in women, and are also more common in the Spring and Fall.  Cluster headaches also tend to strike patients at the same time each year. 

Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Doctors aren’t sure what causes cluster headaches and often prescribe treatments such as oxygen therapy, Imitrex, local anesthetics, or calcium channel blockers that either shorten the cluster attack or send headaches into temporary remission. 

When you’re experiencing cluster headaches, your body is communicating that it isn’t functioning optimally. Chiropractic treatment focuses preventative care by making adjustments to the upper cervical joints (upper neck). When joint motion is restored, the nervous system can relax and function optimally, bringing powerful relief from cluster headaches.

Tension Headaches

Ever get a dull, achy sensation all over your head? This is typical of a tension headache as opposed to the distinct throbbing of migraines. Tension headaches may also cause your neck, forehead, scalp, or shoulder muscles to feel tender.

The most common cause of tension headaches is subluxations in the upper back and neck usually in conjunction with active trigger points. Sometimes the top cervical vertebrae will lose normal motion, causing painful muscle spasms. People who sit at a desk all day, spend large amounts of time on their smartphone, (resulting in the dreaded “tech neck”) or who’ve suffered whiplash are more susceptible to tension headaches.

Treating Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are often brought on by stress. Over-the-counter pain relievers often provide pain relief but for more severe headaches, prescription drugs like indomethacin, meloxicam, and ketorolac may also be prescribed.

While drugs may provide pain relief, they do not address the origin of what’s causing your headaches. A common root cause is a misaligned vertebrae pressing on the nerves above and below the spine, disrupting the communication link between the brain and the affected body part. Gentle chiropractic adjustments greatly reduce or even eliminate your tension headache pain.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches often feel similar to migraines; light and noise sensitivity, blurred vision, and an upset stomach are common symptoms. A migraine headache, however, is rooted in the brain, while a cervicogenic headache is rooted in the cervical spine/neck or base of the skull.

Cervicogenic headaches include a distinct throbbing head pain along with:

  • Pain on one side of your head or face, or around the eyes
  • Stiff neck, or pain that accompanies neck movement
  • Pain while coughing or sneezing

Common causes include degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, a prolapsed disc in the neck, or whiplash. Cervicogenic headaches may also occur due to poor posture while sitting or standing. And if your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, you may unknowingly put pressure on the neck and base of the skull, triggering a cervicogenic headache. Even falling asleep in an awkward position can cause a cervicogenic headache. 

Treating Cervicogenic Headaches

Since inflammation and other problems with the nerves can cause cervicogenic headaches, your doctor may recommend oral over-the-counter medications or a muscle relaxant.

Chiropractic care will often involve applying pressure to different parts of your neck and base of your head to determine whether a particular spot is triggering a headache. Additionally, tests to determine if changes in neck positioning provoke a headache may also be part of diagnostic treatment.

Ongoing adjustments as part of your treatment plan will help with pain as will simply avoiding activities that worsen pain, applying ice or heat for 10 to 15 minutes, using a neck brace when you’ve got a sore neck, and practicing good posture.

There are many physical and environmental factors to consider when determining which type of headache you have, and you often won’t be completely sure until you’ve consulted with a doctor. Schedule an online appointment or call us (626) 469-7478, we will help determine the root cause of your pain so a customized treatment plan can be mapped out for your immediate and ongoing relief.