In light of school being back in session – and we all know it’s not just our kids going back! – I thought it would be helpful to address some issues regarding headaches I’ve seen recently with clients that have returned to school. I’ve seen several common concerns that I will focus on today. I have written about this before, but it’s such a huge issue I felt it was time to address it again.
Neck Pain and Headaches
Neck pain and headaches go hand in hand, in my opinion. There are things we do regularly to strain our necks and therefore give ourselves headaches. Going back to school is one of them! When we are sitting at a desk, either looking at a computer or taking notes, we tend to hold our heads in an unnatural position. With our heads down, we stretch the muscles along the back of the neck and shorten the muscles along the front. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time on my phone: texting, researching on the web, etc. This is also hard on the neck muscles.
In my opinion two things need to happen to help relieve some of this neck pain. First, strengthening the neck is very helpful. Our heads are heavy and our necks have to hold it up all day! Balancing a book on your head for several minutes a day will help strengthen those neck muscles. This encourages the muscles that hold our head upright to become stronger while also promoting good posture. It’s hard to balance a book if you are holding your head in a weird position!
Massage can help
Secondly, massage can help relieve the tension in the neck. The idea is to get the muscles to relax and return to their correct position. This will not only help relieve the local pain felt in the neck, but also the referred pain in the head. I recommend either a tennis ball or just using your fingers. Find the sore spots on your neck and apply as much pressure as is comfortable for you. It’s easy to do this during class, or while sitting at your desk at work. Of course we can also help with the pain at paradise massage studio. A 30 minute session is often sufficient to relieve most if not all of that neck pain.
This is another topic for you back-to-schoolers. Carrying a backpack or laptop bag is hard on our bodies. It changes our center of gravity and requires us to hold our bodies in unnatural positions. If you do a search for ergonomic backpacks you will see several options you might want to consider. I see a lot of clients with their shoulders seemingly touching their ears (ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration). Carrying backpacks (or children, or stress) causes us to tense up our trapezius muscles. When we do this too much, those muscles stay in that tensed up position and pretty soon we have some good trigger points (knots) to deal with. These muscles are connected to the rhomboid muscles which are those darned muscles between the shoulder blades that you can’t seem to get the knots out of! Posture, stress, carrying things, sitting at a computer, etc. all contribute to the pain you feel between your shoulder blades.
Again, I’m going to suggest a tennis ball to help massage those pains out. Place the tennis ball on the floor and lie on your back with the tennis ball where it hurts. The nice thing about the tennis ball is you can control the pressure and find exactly where it hurts.
And remember your posture when sitting, standing and walking!
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