Headache? You’re not alone… up to 1 adult in every 20 has a headache every day. Migraine is also very common affecting at least 1 adult in every 7, at least once in their lives. Actually we start suffering from headaches from a very early age. According to a research by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Forty percent (or more) of all children have had a headache by the age of 7.
There are many types of headache (eg. migraine, tension-type headache and cluster headache) and also many reasons behind it. Headache can stem from genetica reasons, stress, anxiety, blood vessels in the brain, brain tumour or stiff and tight muscles around the neck area – the last one being the most common but the least known one as the neck is not the first target to search for when the pain comes from the head, not the neck! Because you know, its name reads ‘head’ache! However, Cervicogenic Headache -headache originating from the neck area is one of the most common types of headache. Although it sounds weird to think a problem in the neck can actually cause an ache in the head, there is a logical explanation behind it. If we look at the physiology of the nerve pathways, things become clearer. The upper 3 cervical nerves from each side of the neck pass into the spinal cord, and follow a track up through the brainstem (base of the brain) into an area called the Trigemino-Cervical Nucleus (TCN). A separate set of nerves on each side of the head known as the Trigeminal nerves also connect into the same TCN. These trigeminal nerves have a highly significant role in receiving the messages from the face, neck and brain. Trigeminal nerves and neck nerves intersect in the TCN area which causes a confusion about the root of the actual pain. Hence, any problem In or around the neck area is highly possible to be felt as an actual headache.
So why do we have neck problems?
There are many reasons behind like sleeping on a thick pillow and bad sitting habits, the most important one is the technology – mobile phones, tablets and sitting at a desk in front of a computer in the wrong position! These new habits of the human beings have led to a huge increase in the Forward Head Posture (FHP) issues in the past 10 years. Starting from the age of 3, people spend most of their times leaning their head forward, looking at a screen. In time, this position becomes permanent and creates a chain of other postural problems as well.
What is Forward Head Posture (FHP) then?
How Forward Head Posture (FHP) – Text Neck occurs
Forward head posture occurs when the neck slants forward, placing the head further in front of the shoulders rather than directly above. It is also known as ‘Text Neck’ as the biggest responsible of the posture is texting on your mobile phone! An adult human head weighs 4.5 – 5kg, and forwarding it up to 60 degrees for a long time is more than enough to misalign the whole body from the head to the toe. Some common results of Forward Head Posture are listed below:
Pain in the neck
Stiff neck problems
Dizziness / Vertigo
Upper Back Pain
Lower Back Pain
These are some of the direct effects of FHP that you may suffer from.
So how to reverse or prevent a possible FHP?
Thinking that it is not possible for us to stop using these technological tools which are already, we can at least be mindful while using them and do exercises to make our muscles stronger and flexible enough to keep the aligned posture whatever our work or hobby is. I highly recommend Pilates at this point. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles, balance the body, and increase flexibility. Regular Pilates exercises with a qualified and reliable instructor would do wonders on your posture and posture originated illnesses. In terms of migraine, for example, strength and balance can help diminish migraine triggers. Pilates International suggests that Pilates can help with the health of your nervous system, which is highly crucial in avoiding attacks. The other nice thing about Pilates is that the motions are all fluid and low impact. It also helps strengthen the neck muscles, which often can trigger headaches.
If you are suffering from Migraine, Headaches or Forward Head Posture, please feel free to contact me for any of your questions.