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Your Mom Was Right - Sit Up Straight

It never fails, it seems like you end up with a splitting headache when you spend too much time sitting at your computer. It’s very probable that your discomfort is caused by poor sitting posture.

According to Mary Kate McDonnell, PT, DPT, OCS , “It is common to slump when sitting at the computer, which pushes your head and neck forward as you strain to see the screen. This improper alignment causes compression on the back of the neck and can cause pain in your head, also known as cervicogenic headaches.”

If you are getting frequent headaches, it is important to see your physician to rule out any non-mechanical, neurologic factors causing your symptoms. If it is determined your headaches are caused by problems in the neck, a physical therapist can show you simple and unique exercises that may decrease the frequency of headaches.

At your evaluation, the physical therapist will assess postural alignment, neck range of motion, muscle length, and strength in your neck and upper back.
It may be beneficial to ask about an assessment of your daily work tasks so you can learn how ergonomic changes can relieve stress on the neck and headache pain. For instance, stress on your muscles from cradling a phone on the neck and shoulder may contribute to your headaches – and the use of a headset may be recommended.

Dr. McDonnell says, “There are small changes that can make a difference during your day. When sitting at the computer, you can try and support your arms on the desk or arm rests. This can diminish the weight of the arms pulling on the neck structures.

To improve your neck alignment, try to keep your head over your shoulders with your nose and chin down. If you feel you are giving yourself a ‘double chin’, then your posture is correct.”

If you are interested in a posture evaluation, please contact your physician for a physical therapy referral.  To make an appointment please call 314-286-1940.

Patients are seen at:

Washington University School of Medicine
Program in Physical Therapy
4444 Forest Park Ave.
Suite 1210
St. Louis, MO 63108
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Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine