Updated: May 7
Through the advent of technology, people have been afforded the opportunity of forgoing manual labor and sitting in cool office buildings. On the outside, it sounds great, but working in sedentary jobs has created a silent epidemic. More people are not only suffering from obesity and high blood pressure but headaches among other problems.
How Your Office Job Impacts Your Headaches
Staring at computer monitors and phones all day is draining on the brain and straining on the eyes and muscles of the neck, face, and scalp. Our cervical spine – the spine that makes up your neck – is meant to have a slight c-curve. However, when we stare at computer monitors and phone screens all day, we have a tendency to jet out our chin, which straightens out the cervical spinal column. That doesn’t sound that bad, but after eight hours per day, five days per week, for ten plus years, that takes a nasty toll on your body.
What can occur then is that the front of your cervical spinal column will form bone spurs. These bone spurs can be quite painful, leading to neck pain and tension as well as headaches. By jetting our chin forward, we are overlengthening the muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders and shortening the ones in the front of the neck. This straightening of the spine and change in muscle length also makes the head have a heavier load on the spinal column than it should if things are functioning properly.
We also have a tendency to shrug our shoulders up to our ears. Usually, our right side is up higher than the left because that’s our mouse hand. This creates tension all throughout the shoulders, neck, and into the back of the head, scalp, and face. The right side of our body tends to rotate inwards, and our hips become imbalanced to compensate for the positional changes.
The position of our monitor, or whether we’re using multiple monitors, also affects our alignment. If the monitor is down too low, then we have to tilt our chin to look down, oftentimes turtle-necking our neck out to see what’s going on. If it’s too high then we have to look up. If you have multiple monitors, then you’re going to end up tilting your head to look at one, and you’ll usually end up looking one way longer than the other. This creates unnecessary tension all along the occipital ridge – the back area of your neck just where your skull and spine meet – causing headaches.
To see information more clearly, we often scrunch our eyebrows, squint, and raise our eyebrows. This causes the muscles in the face to have much greater tension than they would if we were staring at things much further away. We may also tense our jaw or tongue, which will cause the muscles in the front of the neck to tense in response.
All of these seemingly subtle changes together over time can cause havoc on the entire body. At first, they only affect the upper half of the body, but over time they affect the entire body through shared muscular attachments. Headaches can also become severe, turning into migraines, leading you to need medication or other more aggressive forms of therapy. Chiropractic and regular massage therapy can help lessen the severity of your symptoms. Massage therapy helps to reduce muscular tension, lengthen muscles, and bring relaxation to the entire body. They may also help to get rid of headaches altogether when consistently received over a period of time, and continued to receive at regular intervals after the initial treatment plan.
How Massage Therapy Helps Your Headaches
For a headache treatment protocol massage, we typically focus on opening up the front side of the body. We start the massage this way because more often than not you’re hunched over your desk. The pectoralis muscles become contracted, as do the muscles of the shoulders and the front of the neck. We then work the muscles all along the occipital ridge because they hold onto tension, causing adhesions to form. We’ll also work the muscles of the upper back, including the levator scapulae, rhomboids, and trapezius muscle groups, to relieve tension that’s being stored there and to help the surrounding muscles. If you have a longer session we will work the full-back, as well as the shoulders and arms as they also hold onto tension that travels upwards.
You don’t have to live with your headaches. If you have been to your doctor and they haven’t been able to find a cause, and you don’t want to get on narcotics, try a massage that specifically focuses on the face, scalp, back, and neck. You’ll be surprised by the results! Let us know what you think in the comments section below or call us today to schedule your appointment.