Headache causes: How working from home might be causing your headaches

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Almost everyone will have a headache at some point in their lives and many of us have them regularly. Working from home on the sofa, in bed and on unsupportive chairs during the coronavirus pandemic may have increased the number of headaches experienced by Brits. Osteopath and owner of Solihull Osteopathic Practice told Rymans that bad posture can cause a myriad of health issues, including headaches. Express.co.uk reveals how your posture could be to blame for your headaches.

More than half of Brits reported new aches and pains as a result of home-working since the start of the pandemic, according to research by The Institute of Employment Studies.

Working from home allows for better work-life balance, but causes our posture, backs and necks to suffer.

According to osteopath Jeremy James, bad seating and posture can cause headaches and his practice has seen a huge increase in the number of patients complaining about lower back pain, neck pain and headaches since working from home began.

If you’re experiencing more than your fair share of headaches, it’s time to start assessing your working from home setup.

People often link headaches with too much screen time, but it’s just as likely that your sore head is down to your seating arrangements.

Jeremy said: “Sedentary people are prone to muscle tightness in the trapezius muscle which can become very painful.

“From there, it can cause a surprising side effect. Neck tension from peering at a screen can cause headaches.

“Headaches which come from the neck are very common and are often wrongly thought to be an issue with vision.”

Even if you’re working from a desk similar to the one in the office, you might still be more cramped and less likely to get up and take a break.

Jeremy said: “The big increase in the number of patients with lower back, neck pain and headaches since people started working from home is not surprising.

“At home people often have unsuitable chairs and desks, and are forced to work in cramped spaces which do not allow enough chance to change position.

“The most common complaint we see in the clinic is lower back pain.

“There are many causes for this, and they vary widely from person to person. Prolonged bad sitting posture can be a real problem for the lower back, as well as the neck and shoulders.

“Stress and tension at work is also a big cause of neck and shoulder pain.”

There are longer-term issues that poor posture can cause too.

Jeremy said: “Over time, discs may become compressed, which can lead to disc degeneration.

“Muscles may become tight due to lack of movement, while prolonged positions leaning forward looking towards a screen at the wrong angle may cause muscle tension in the neck and shoulders – especially if the workstation does not allow enough room for movement.

“As time goes on, muscles fatigue and can become sensitised to pain, which can then cause long term problems and is hard to reverse.”

How to beat headaches caused by bad posture

Changing position, surprisingly, is one of the most important things you can do for your posture and to beat posture-induced headaches.

Jeremy explained: “Prolonged static posture causes stiffness in muscles by restricting blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscle, resulting in fatigue in certain muscle groups.

“This then results in pain in the back, neck and shoulders, starting soon after.

“Use the adjustments of the chair to allow you to change position while still sitting at the desk to allow muscles to recover, and take frequent breaks from sitting and stretch your body to allow the blood to flow.”

You can also simply try turning your head from side to side whilst at your desk in order to stop muscles from stiffening.

Jeremy added: “Likewise, reach up to the ceiling a few times to get the blood flowing into your shoulders and neck muscles, then bend over and touch your toes a few times to get the blood flowing into your lower back.

“You can even go further and do a few squats, or go up on your tiptoes a few times to loosen your body up.”

Make sure you’re keeping as healthy as possible when working from home with dedicated office furniture, including ergonomic furniture and orthopaedic chairs, Jeremy said.

He added: “Whatever seat you opt for while you work should be fully adjustable.

“Or why not invest in a desk that also allows you to stand while you work to ensure blood is flowing?”

Since stress is another huge cause of tension, do your best to manage stress levels and make sure you get enough sleep.

Try taking regular breaks to relax and don’t work out of hours.

Find hobbies that get you out of your head, keep active and get lots of fresh air.

Anyone concerned about their headaches or symptoms should discuss this with a medical professional.

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