How to Prevent Headaches from your Computer

Hey guys, Dr. Lell here – your family chiropractor here in Portland. Frequently, a patient will ask a great question that I think a lot of people might wonder and I turn it into a blog. This time, I even tried my hand at a question and answer video! Excuse the quality; I’ll get the technical parts figured out eventually.

What are Computer Headaches?

There are many different kinds of headaches that you may be experiencing throughout your day: tension, ocular, or migraine just to name a few. But the headaches this blog is about is the kind of headache that sets in after a few hours of you sitting at your desk hunched over your computer. These are muscle tension headaches. They typically begin with a stiff neck and upper back, the neck stiffness becomes soreness, and a tight achy grip travels up your head sometimes settling behind the eyes.

Why do I get Headaches from Hunching over my Computer?

It comes down to bad ergonomics. Poor placement of things in your work station can cause you to hunch over and put a hump in your upper back. Often, your neck will either be too low (looking down at your monitor) or kinked back (so that you can see your monitor when you’re hunched too far). This position is okay for a while, but after an hour and a half or so, the muscles you’re misusing will get tight and angry and you could start hanging on the ligaments in your upper back. This combination of angry muscles and stretchy ligaments will often create the stiffness in your upper  back and neck that may eventually lead to a headache.

This tight and bunched up position (it’s called the t-rex position for obvious reasons) puts a lot of tension on your upper traps, levator scapulae, suboccipital muscles, and pecs while lengthening and weakening your postural support muscles in the upper thoracic spine.

2 Simple Tricks on Preventing Computer Headaches

There are two simple things you can do that will automatically fix all of your working posture issues without you having to constantly think about it.

1 – Align the top of your monitor with your eyes

This forces you to keep your neck upright and in a neutral position; you won’t have to tilt your head down or up for hours to see you screen and it will help to prevent you from hunching your upper back as well.

2 – Put your keyboard just under your hands

Sit upright in your chair and let your arms hang at your side. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees or so. Wherever your hands are is where your keyboard should be. Most people have their keyboard too far away from them so they have to reach over. This causes your to slump and to internally rotate and protract your shoulders with can cause tightness in the pecs and upper traps. By having your keyboard in the right position, you’re forced back in your seat more and your upper body will adopt a more neutral position with the neck.

There you have it! It’s as simple as monitor height and keyboard placement!

Over time, this unchecked posture can lead to something called upper cross syndrome which is characterized by slumped shoulders, a hunched upper back, and forward head carriage. Typically, the most common symptoms of upper cross syndrome are very tight muscles and frequent headaches but it can lead to other conditions such as cervical disc herniations, shoulder injuries, and thoracic outlet syndrome.

If are experiencing troubles like headache and tight muscles from your hours spent hunched over your computer, make an appointment online and start feeling better again. As always, drop me a line or topic request on Facebook!

Yours in health,

Dr. Lell

Photo Credits