Headaches and Posture: Why Your Headache May Be Due to Your Posture and What You Can Do About It

Do you often have a pounding headache after a long day at work? Or you may have a headache that starts in the morning and lasts all day. While many factors cause headaches, bad posture is often overlooked, especially now that more people are working from home.

Research shows poor posture while sitting or standing can also lead to headaches. When you slouch or lean forward too much, it can tighten your neck muscles, especially those at the back of your head. These tight muscles can then lead to headaches.

In this article, you will learn useful headache prevention tips and explore the connection between headaches and posture

What do headaches feel like? 

Headaches can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and manifest in various ways. Some common symptoms of a headache include:

  • Throbbing or pulsating pain in the head
  • Dull ache or pressure in the head
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tension or tightness in the neck and shoulders

Different Types of Headaches

To get the right treatment and relief from headaches, you must know the different kinds and their causes. Here are some common types of headaches you should know about

1. Suboccipital Headache

A suboccipital headache is a type of headache that originates from the suboccipital muscles at the base of the skull. These four groups of muscles allow small movements between the skull and the first and second vertebrae in the neck. A throbbing pain that goes from the neck to the back of the head is one way to describe it.  


  • Prolonged Poor Posture: Holding your head forward or in an awkward position for extended periods.
  • Muscle Tension: Stress and strain lead to tightness in the muscles at the base of your skull.
  • Incorrect Ergonomics: Using a poorly adjusted chair or working with a screen at an uncomfortable height.
  • Overuse of Devices: Excessive long term effects of desk jobs, especially with a downward gaze.

What to Do: 

  1. Relief Techniques: Ice or rub the suboccipital muscles for relief.
  2. Treatment Approaches: Over-the-counter NSAIDs, electric, ultrasound, and cold laser treatments improve suboccipital headaches.
  3. Posture Improvement: Treatment focuses on improving standing and sitting posture to reduce muscle stress.
  4. Massage Therapy: This decreases spasms, pain, tenderness, and tension in these muscles.
  5. Neck Stretches and Exercise: Perform gentle neck stretches or suboccipital muscles strengthening exercises throughout the day.
  6. Graston Technique: Effective for decreasing scar tissue and spasms linked to poor posture and headaches.

2. Computer Screen Headaches

With the increasing reliance on technology, computer screen headaches, or computer vision syndrome, have become more prevalent. These headaches are often characterized by dull, steady pain around the temples and behind the eyes. 


  • Headaches Due to Screen Time: Spending extended hours looking at a computer, tablet, or phone screen.
  • Blue Light Exposure: The light emitted from screens, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Incorrect Screen Settings: Brightness, contrast, or resolution settings that strain the eyes.
  • Patterns and Images: Constantly looking at complex patterns or images on the screen can cause eye fatigue and headaches.

What to Do: 

  1. Screen Breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule - look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  2. Blue Light Filters: Use screen filters or blue light glasses to reduce eye strain.
  3. Proper Lighting: Ensure adequate lighting in the room, avoiding glare on the screen.
  4. Blink Often: Remember to blink regularly to keep your eyes moist and prevent dryness.
  5. Eye Exercises: Rotate your eyes, focus on near and far objects to relax eye muscles.

3. Tension Headaches

The most common type of headache is posture and tension headaches, which feel dull, aching pain all over the head. They can last from a few hours to several days, making you feel like your head is in a vice, gradually tightening.


  • Muscle Tension: Tightness in neck and shoulder muscles due to stress or poor posture.
  • Eyestrain: Prolonged screen time, reading, or focusing on a specific task.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can contribute to tension headaches.
  • Lack of Breaks: Not taking regular breaks during work or activities.

What to Do: 

  1. Consistent Sleep Routine: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time daily to regulate your body's internal clock.
  2. Regular Exercise: Engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to promote overall well-being.
  3. Balanced Meals: Eat regular, well-balanced meals without skipping any, with particular emphasis on breakfast.
  4. Rest in a Calm Environment: Find quiet, dark spaces for rest when needed, creating a relaxing environment.
  5. Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing activities like yoga, massage, or relaxation exercises.
  6. Medication Management: Take prescribed medicines as your healthcare provider recommends for headache relief.

4. Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are rare headaches that happen in groups or cycles. They are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, usually around the eye.

In addition, cluster headaches are often described as the most painful type of headache. The exact cause is unknown, but they are believed to be related to abnormalities in the hypothalamus.


  • Changes in sleep patterns: Disruptions in your regular sleep routine, such as jet lag or shift work, can increase the likelihood of experiencing cluster headaches.
  • Vasodilation: Blood vessels around the brain expanding suddenly can contribute.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Family history can increase the likelihood of cluster headaches.

What to Do: 

  1. Consult a healthcare professional: It is essential to seek medical advice if you are experiencing cluster headaches. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.
  2. Medications: There are various medications available that can help relieve the pain associated with cluster headaches. These may include triptans, which can constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
  3. Oxygen therapy: Inhaling pure oxygen through a mask has been shown to relieve some individuals with cluster headaches. This can be done at home with a prescription from your doctor.

5. Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate from problems in the neck or cervical spine. They are often caused by bad posture working from home, muscle tension, or cervical spine disorders. These headaches can be felt on one side of the head and are usually accompanied by neck pain.


  • Neck injuries: Trauma or injuries to the neck, such as whiplash or muscle strains, can result in cervicogenic headaches. These injuries can cause misalignment or damage to the cervical spine.
  • Degenerative conditions: Conditions such as osteoarthritis or cervical disc degeneration can cause cervicogenic headaches. These conditions can lead to nerve compression or irritation in the cervical spine.

What to Do: 

  1. Improve posture: Maintaining good posture while sitting, standing, and walking prevents cervicogenic headaches. Ensure that your spine is aligned correctly, and avoid slouching or hunching over.
  2. Physical therapy: If your cervicogenic headaches are persistent, it may be beneficial to consult a physical therapist. They can provide targeted exercises and treatments to address any underlying issues in the cervical spine.

Healthy Habits for Good Posture While Sitting at Your Desk

To keep good posture while sitting at your desk, you need to make the following healthy habits a part of your daily life:

1. Keep Your Ears, Shoulders, and Hips Aligned

When sitting at your desk, ensure that your ears are directly above your shoulders and your shoulders align with your hips. This position helps spread your body weight evenly and makes your muscles less stressed.

To achieve this alignment, sit up straight with your back against the chair. Remember, slouching or hunching forward can hurt you. Instead, imagine a string pulling you upwards from the top of your head, elongating your spine, and creating a natural curve in your lower back.

2. Use a Back Support

Back support, such as a lumbar roll or a cushion, helps maintain the natural curve of your spine, providing support to your lower back.

To help you out, place the back support in the curve of your lower back, between your spine and the back of the chair. This will help you maintain the correct posture and prevent slouching.

Remember to adjust the back support to your comfort level, ensuring it provides adequate support without causing discomfort.

3. Evenly Distribute Your Weight Over Both Hips

When sitting, you must distribute your weight evenly over both hips. This helps to prevent muscle imbalances and reduces the risk of developing hip or lower back pain.

To achieve this, sit with your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs, as this can cause an imbalance in weight distribution.

If you tend to lean to one side while sitting, try placing a small cushion or towel under the lower part of the opposite hip. This will help to level your hips and promote equal weight distribution. Remember to switch sides periodically to prevent prolonged pressure on one hip.

4. Use Foot Stool if Necessary

If your feet don't comfortably reach the floor when sitting at your desk, consider using a footstool. This will help to relieve pressure on your hips and lower back, allowing for better posture. Additionally, using a footstool can improve blood circulation in your legs, preventing discomfort and swelling.

5. Position Your Keyboard Correctly

The position of your keyboard can impact your posture and overall comfort while sitting at your desk. To maintain good posture, position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor and your wrists are neutral.

However, avoid placing your keyboard too far away or close to your body, as this can strain your shoulders and wrists. If needed, consider using a keyboard tray or an adjustable stand to achieve the optimal position.

Prevent Headaches due to Bad Posture

To sum up, headaches can be caused by various factors including bad posture. By understanding the different kinds of headaches and their causes, you can take proactive steps to alleviate and prevent them. However, you must consult a healthcare professional if you are experiencing persistent or severe headaches for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Did you learn anything new about headaches and posture? Feel free to share your thoughts and stay up to date!

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