Slouching at a Computer Causes Headaches Sioux City
Slouching at a computer is bad. We all know that poor posture can increase stress and strain on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and spinal discs, overwhelming these tissues and producing neck pain and headaches. Yet, nevertheless, most of us have developed this poor habit over time. If you do slouch at your computer, it will eventually cause problems.
Sitting and slouching is very common in any work setting. If you ever look out across an office, you’ll be able to see many workers hunched over their computers. While some people do have excellent posture, most of us have room to improve. Sometimes, workstation setups promote slouching, but most of us have the habit ingrained regardless. We feel more comfortable slouching—sitting upright with excellent posture may even feel awkward.
Many people suffer from headaches, neck pain, and upper back pain as a consequence of poor posture. Think of your head as a seven-pound bowling ball sitting on a toothpick—that is, your neck. In an ideal posture, the weight of the head is distributed evenly across the neck joints, and the muscles do not have to work very hard to hold the head up. When the head starts to move forward from its ideal position, a tremendous amount of force is placed on the neck and upper back joints. It has been said that the effective weight of the head doubles with every inch it moves forward. So, slouching several inches forward means our neck muscles have to work extremely hard throughout the course of the entire day.
Over weeks, months, and years, muscles and tendons become injured. Over time, many people start to experience headaches from these small micro-injuries. These headaches are exacerbated by poor posture and long work hours. For these people, it starts out as one headache every week or two. The headaches improve with rest, ice, over-the-counter medication, or breaks from work. Over time, though, they start developing two tension headaches a week, and eventually three or four. They start to feel neck and upper back pain, usually beginning in the afternoon hours. Migraine headaches at the end of the day are often exacerbated by poor posture and muscle stress.
Treating Pain From Slouching
There are many treatments available for headaches and neck pain from slouching. Effective treatments decrease muscle spasms, tightness, loss of flexibility, trigger points, myofascial adhesions, and scar tissue in the suboccipital, neck muscles, upper back, and shoulder blade muscles. These are the muscles that are overworked every time we slouch forward.
Treatments involve ice, heat, electric therapy, ultrasound, cold laser, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, traction, Graston Technique, or Active Release Technique. These treatments are designed to increase joint range of motion, and to decrease pain. The muscle techniques aim to remove scar tissue from the muscle.
These instances of scar tissue or fascial adhesions are the result of overworking and straining the body. The body uses “cheap patches of scar tissue” in injured places, with the intention of fixing the tissue properly at a later date. However, sometimes the body is unable to properly replace the scar tissue. Eventually, these patches of scar tissue grow in size and eventually become sources of pain. Scar tissue also changes how muscles contract and slide, which places further strain on adjacent muscles.
People with poor posture will commonly describe “knots” or soreness in their neck or trapezius muscles. They say their soreness always starts in the same location. These big knots never go away. The knots feel better with heat, ice, rest, or massage therapy. However, if the person sits at their computer for too long the irritation quickly returns and the knots become painful again.
These knots are locations of scar tissue, which become trigger zones for headaches. Graston Technique and Active Release Technique (ART) are excellent tools for breaking up the scar tissue and restoring normal muscle fiber sliding movements. People respond very quickly to these treatments.
As an office we like to see patients with these symptoms, because we know the knots or scar tissue adhesions will respond very quickly to our combination treatment. People will notice improved flexibility and less pain within two weeks. They feel less stiffness and soreness first thing in the morning, and at the end of the day. Their dull pain and achiness, when working at the computer, does not begin until later in the afternoon. Headaches become less intense and frequent; eventually, they start having only one to two headaches per week. Within a month, the intensity, frequency, and duration of their headaches has been decreased to a level they never expected
Poor posture and slouching produces scar tissue and injury in the neck and back muscles. Over the long term, a person needs to improve their posture in order to stop overworking these muscles and joints. Notes, phone alarms, and pop-ups on your computer are all great ways of regularly reminding yourself to sit up. Sometimes, you will need to rearrange or change your workstation in order to improve ergonomic positions. As mentioned earlier, the neck joints and muscles are designed to support the weight of the head; however, most of us overwork these muscles by slouching with the head forward. Returning the head to a proper position significantly reduces the stress load on the neck muscles and joints. Combining postural changes with appropriate treatment quickly reduces neck pain, upper back pain, tension headaches, and migraine headaches.