Headaches and Posture

Have you ever glanced at your reflection in a storefront window or mirror as you walked by and noticed your posture? Scary, isn’t it? We all know that we should stand up straight, but we soon forget when as we fall back into our daily routine.

Poor posture is often due to years of standing slouched, a bad “habit” that usually starts at a young age. Just look around the next time you’re in an airport or at a shopping mall and notice how many people have poor posture. In fact, a person’s posture may reflect their present attitude and reveal if they’re happy, sad, or depressed. Poor posture may be related to self-consciousness, especially during adolescence. It may also have a genetic component, as we frequently see a “trait” throughout family members with similar postural tendencies.

The most common postural fault associated with headaches is the forward-based head and shoulders. From the side, it appears that the head is significantly forward relative to the shoulders, the upper back is rounded forwards, and the shoulders are rolled forwards and rotated inward. One exercise that helps reduce this postural bad habit is tucking in the chin and pretending a book is balancing on top of the head. The objective is to not allow the book to slide forward off your head and land on your toes!

It takes approximately three months of CONSTANT self-reminding before the new “good habit” posture becomes automatic, so be patient. Soon you’ll “catch yourself doing it right” without thinking about it.

Frequently, posture is faulty lower down the “kinetic chain.” The first link of the chain is the feet and the last link is the head. Since we stand on two feet, any change in that first link or the feet, can alter the rest of the chain, especially areas further away like the head, resulting in headaches. For example, if one leg is short, the pelvis drops, the spine shifts (scoliosis), the shoulder drops and the head shifts in an attempt to keep the eyes level. A short leg usually needs to be managed with a heel lift, an arch support, or combination of both to properly treat the headache patient.