How Physiotherapy Can Help with Neck, Shoulder and Headache Pain

There has been an increase in people suffering from tightness and pain in the neck and shoulders, and headaches, likely due to more and more people working from home. While people have now had the opportunity to return to the workplace, there are more people working from home than ever before.

This change in work has meant longer periods of sitting as there is no commute and possibly limited movement through the day as people aren’t walking around the office to go to meetings or to see colleagues, running errands at lunchtime or ducking out to grab a coffee.

The more sedentary your lifestyle, the more issues you are likely to have with neck, shoulder and headache pain.

Posture Causing Tightness in the Neck and Shoulders

Pain in these areas occurs when there is limited movement in the muscle groups of the upper back, neck and shoulders, or there is decreased tissue capacity in those areas. Muscles in the upper back and next work continuously to counterbalance the pull of gravity of the head which makes them susceptible to strains.

Lots of sitting and poor posture often means the neck slants forwards so the head is in front of the shoulders. This puts a lot of extra strain on the muscles and ligaments that support the head.

The Cause of Headache Pain

A cervicogenic headache is one that radiates from the neck to the front of the head. Pain will often be at the base of the skull, can be felt behind or around the eye, along the top of the forehead or along the jaw.

Increased load, strain or trauma on the upper back, neck or shoulders can increase the sensitivity of the cervical joints and spinal nerves in this part of the body and show up as pain.

Does Poor Posture & Ergonomics Contribute to Pain?

Every one of us has been told to ‘sit up straight’ at some point, possibly quite often during our childhood. While good posture is important, it is thought that staying in the same position with a lack of movement is more likely to contribute to pain than poor posture itself.

For instance, if you sit at a desk all day, whether you consciously ensure you have good posture or tend to slouch, holding either of these positions for an extended period of time will result in soreness in certain parts of the body by the end of the day.

An ideal ergonomic setup can help to keep the body relaxed and avoid excess fatigue in postural muscles, but it isn’t enough on its own to prevent neck and shoulder pain. Again, it is all about being in a sustained position for a period of time, regardless of how ‘good’ that position is.

What Fixes Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Stretching can help keep your muscles loose and provide some good movement for your body when you have a sedentary day in front of you. Also, in the early stages, stretching can help mild tension that is causing pain. However, it doesn’t do a lot in preventing flare ups as it doesn’t help target the actual cause of the pain.

Strength training to exercise the upper back, shoulders and neck is the best option for pain and to reduce the length and intensity of flare ups – it may even help to prevent them. Good exercises for the upper body include upright row, front raise, lateral raise, 1 arm row, dumbbell shrug and reverse fly. Performing these types of strength exercises regularly can work well as a preventative measure as they increase muscle strength and therefore reduce the risk of strains and pain. They are simple to perform, and you only need a few minutes at a time.

If you are currently suffering from headaches, or tension in your neck and shoulders you can’t release, book a session with a sports physio at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy. A physio will undertake a thorough assessment to find out exactly where along your spine or in your neck the issues are coming from and will provide a specific treatment plan for relief. This plan can include physiotherapy for back pain, deep tissue massage, physiotherapy for sciatica, or post operative physiotherapy.

They will also be able to give you some simple exercises you can do at home to keep the pain at bay.

Call or book an online appointment with one of the physio team today. Their goal is to have you moving pain free as soon as possible!