Whether it’s a pounding in the temples, a dull throb in the back of your head or a shooting pain with noise and bright light; headaches are a disabling and painful occurrence, especially if they happen often. Headaches are a common problem affecting approximately 25% of the female population and around 8% of males (the difference thought to be due to hormonal fluctuations). Talk to anyone you know suffering this debilitating condition and they will tell you how much it affects not only their home and work life but also their ability to commit 100% to their training.

What many people don’t realise is a vast proportion of headaches are generated by the neck, upper back and associated muscles. Specifically areas of greatest concern are the C2/3 facet joints and sub-occipital muscles which have been demonstrated to refer pain to the base of the skull and around the forehead into the eyes and temples. During times of stress, repeated poor postures or hard training levels the joint and muscles in our upper body tighten and develop increased tension. This in turn leads to poor or restricted movement patterns in the upper back and cervical region generating irritation in pain sensitive structures.

Studies on posture have shown that for every degree of forward head on neck posture a patient demonstrates it increases the load placed through upper cervical structures by roughly 10%. It is not uncommon for patients to be assessed with up to 10 degrees of forward head tilt. Given the average human head weighs around 5kg this amounts to an extra 5kg of force being placed on the muscles and joints of the upper neck.

So what can be done about it?

If you suffer headaches try these few simple steps to help ease your pain: – If working in a seated job or currently studying remember to move and stretch every 30-40mins. – Stretch your traps by gently taking your chin down to your arm pit and applying a gentle pressure with your hand and stretch your chest by placing your hand against the inside of a door and turning away. – Lie on the floor over a rolled towel placed horizontally across the thoracic spine at 3 different levels, resting at each point with your arms over your head for 30 seconds. This helps to increase thoracic joint range. – Ensure any workouts involve a balance of chest and back work to encourage a good balanced posture instead of a front dominated posture with increase curvature of the spine and rounded shoulders.

If you however suffer from constant headaches or these symptoms are impacting on your quality of life, then make sure you have a full assessment by your local health professional as soon as possible. If you would like further information then contact us on 01276 37670 or email admin@bs.ftcdesign.co.uk/thorpes Sincerely, Jonathan Smith Director Thorpes Phsyiotherapy Ltd www.bs.ftcdesign.co.uk/thorpes 01276 37670