Stress, Posture And Headaches!

Posted May 16, 2022 at 15:55

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Headaches are a very common problem, with over 75% of the population experiencing one at some point in their lives. But they’re not normal. In health, normal means free illness and disease, so headaches are an abnormal thing for us to experience. If you’re someone that struggles with headaches, then keep reading, because you’re going to learn how your posture might be making it worse!

Most people would say that their posture isn’t perfect. And even if you’re someone who thinks it is, it’s probably not. If our posture isn’t as good as it should be it means our muscles aren’t controlling our spines and other joints in the right way. Some joints may be under excess stress, and others might not have any stability or support. It’s important to make sure our posture is as good as it can be, to allow our body to move and function in the best way. 

Stress is something we all experience, but do you know how it can affect your posture, and even give you headaches? When we’re exposed to a stressful situation, our brain does what it needs to do to protect us, and we go into fight or flight mode. For short term stressors, this is fantastic, our body is prepped to make us run away, or to fight and defend ourselves. But this response is a primal instinct, and we were rarely exposed to the same type of stress as our ancestors. Most of the time now we are exposed to long term stress. Family problems, money worries, stress at work, poor health. There are so many different long term stressors that were exposed to now, which means our body spends long periods in fight or flight mode.


When our fight or flight mode is triggered, our bodies go into survival mode. Our heart rate and blood pressure go up, our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline increase, pupils dilate, perception of pain is altered. Our brain diverts most of our blood to our larger muscle groups, so our arms and legs are primed and ready to go. The consequence of this is that all our smaller muscles get neglected, they’re not important when we’re in survival mode. Lots of these smaller muscles are the ones in our neck. Cervicogenic headaches are a type of secondary headaches that originate in the top of your neck, and refer pain into the head and face. It happens when one or more structures innervated by the top 3 spinal nerves are affected. This means the top 3 levels of your spine. When we’re stressed and our smaller muscles aren’t getting enough blood, they can’t function properly. If they can’t function properly, they can't control the movement of those joints, so the joints start to move in a way that is less than optimal. If these joints are not moving as they should, they're going to become stiff or lose stability, and eventually start to degenerate. When this happens, you will start to experience pain. 


If this goes on for long enough, the damage can become permanent. It can also create new problems, as other surrounding structures have to start moving and working differently to compensate for it, so other areas of the body start on the same path. It’s not always possible to eliminate the stressor, but if you can improve the health and function of your body, you can build up your resilience to stress, so that your body can cope much better and you don’t end up in pain with head and neck aches.

If you or someone you know experiences headaches, or you think you're posture needs improving, then get yourself booked into one of our free postural screening days and find out what we can do to help you!