How many hours do you spend each day sitting in front of your desk? Do you stop to consider your posture?

You may not realize it but sitting all day at work can actually harm your posture. When you become engrossed with what you are doing on your computer screen, you tend to lean in and poke your head forwards. Other times, you might be working on documents for long periods of time which leads to your head being maintained in a dropped/flexed position.

Such activities can cause a muscle in the neck to go into a reactive muscle spasm, resulting in dysfunctions in the upper three cervical vertebrae which can then lead to sensitization of the brain stem, causing headaches and migraines.

Fortunately, there is a way to combat this so that posture will no longer aggravate your headaches and migraines. And no you don’t have to quit your job in order to help your headaches and migraines. You simply need to implement strategies to improve your posture.

Our bodies like to move and getting as much movement as possible is very important, especially if you spend most of your time in the office sitting down. Ideally, you can utilize your lunch break to get moving. Take a short walk, leave the office to buy lunch, run an errand, do anything that gets you on your feet instead of sitting in your chair. Other things you should be trying to do is getting up and out of your chair every 1-2 hours. This will not only help your headaches and migraines but also the rest of your body, including your lower back as well. You can walk around the office, get a glass of water, anything to get your body moving.

Performing neck specific movements can also be useful to ensure that your neck is not stiffening up. By performing slow and gentle neck circles regularly, this will help to maintain the health and mobility of your neck.

You will also want to ensure that your desk is ergonomically set up for you. This means that everything should be within easy reaching distance, your chair should be at an appropriate height for your desk and your desk should be at a height that is not making you slump down because it is too low or alternatively making you shrug your shoulders up because it is too high. Your computer monitor should be at eye level and directly in front of you to reduce neck tension/strain.

Stress also manifests itself in your posture. When you are stressed your shoulders will lift, your muscles tighten, and you crouch in on yourself, leading to an increase in headaches and migraines. If you find that you are often stressed, identifying it is key, because once you have identified that it is an issue, you can work to decrease your stress levels. Starting by performing an activity that you enjoy that is just for you is a good place to start. For example taking a fitness class, yoga, walking with friends, cooking class.

When your posture improves, you become more productive at work and it helps to decrease the intensity and frequency of headache and migraine attacks.

For more information on how to correct your posture and how to de-stress your body, you can check out Dr. Beth’s blogs and videos.