Headache Part Two: Desk, Driving and Sleeping Posture

Headache Part Two: Desk, Driving and Sleeping Posture

There’s a lot of talk about how good posture is crucial for a healthy body, but it’s tough to know what exactly is good posture. In this article, we will discuss the best posture for sitting at a desk, driving and sleeping. These tips are especially important if you suffer from headaches because the position of your head and spine have a huge impact on how you feel. If you’re new to this blog, I recommend looking back to the previous article Headaches Part One: A Pain in the Neck for some background on how headaches can be caused by posture.

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A “normal” spine has 4 curves – the inward (lordotic) curve of the cervical spine or neck, the outward (kyphotic) curve of the thoracic spine, the inward (lordotic) curve of the lumbar spine or low back and the slight outward curve of the sacrum.

Between time, gravity, our jobs and hobbies, we tend to develop a forward head and shoulders posture which changes the forces through the spine. Our chin pushes forward, followed by our upper back resulting in increased strain on the joints and muscles as well as weakening of the deep stabilizing muscles of the neck. This can result in headaches at the base of the head, the temples, radiating up the back of the head and aching in the neck and shoulder blades. Keeping your spine in a neutral position helps minimize the extra forces on the neck and prevent aches and pains as you work and play.

Battle Born Health therapy posture Reno

To maintain good posture, imagine a vertical line being drawn down through your body from head to toe. That line should pass through the center of your ear, your shoulder, your hips and your ankles. This puts your spine into a strong, stacked column which distributes the pull of gravity evenly and reduces strain in the joints and muscles.

Sitting at your desk

Tips Physical therapy Battle Born Health

  • Position your monitor so your eyes are looking 2 to 3 inches below the top edge, keeping your chin parallel with the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together gently to support the upper back, then pull your chin directly backwards into your spine like you’re giving yourself a double chin. The goal is to keep your chin level (not letting it drop toward the floor as you pull it backward) and reverse the curvature that was caused by the forward-head posture that was mentioned earlier.
  • Sit with your hips against the back of the chair with a small towel roll supporting the natural curve of the low back.
  • Finally position your chair so your hips are slightly higher than your knees and your feet can rest solidly on the floor.


This posture is similar to sitting at your desk and the goal is to maintain a tall, neutral spine.

  • Adjust the height of your seat so you can keep your eyes looking straight ahead with the chin level with the horizon. Pull your chin back toward your neck to prevent the forward head posture. Use the headrest as a cue – the back of your head should gently rest on it, while keeping your chin level
  • Relax shoulders and let them drop toward the ground
  • Recline the seat to no more than 30 or 40 degrees
  • Support the low back with a small towel roll
  • Adjust the steering wheel so that your arms are supported on the wheel with roughly 90 degrees of bend in the elbow and shoulders relaxed


People often ask what’s the best position for sleeping and my answer is whatever position you can sleep in.

Left-sided or right-sided – the key is support

Imagine lying on your favorite side…start with the pillow under your head only (not under your shoulders). Next, tuck one end under your chin, pulling the middle section into the crook of your neck and the end around to the back of your head. Picture a horseshoe shaped pillow wrapping around from your chin to your upper back. A great way to achieve the support of an expensive feather or memory foam pillow is to take a hand towel and roll it into a log, then slide that into the pillowcase at the base of the pillow. This creates support for the neck while also being adjustable to your comfort.

headache relief
headache relief
headache relief

Next, support your top arm. Grab a standard pillow and tuck it all the way up under your armpit and so the length of your arm is comfortably resting on the pillow. Make sure all of it is supported by the pillow – upper arm, elbow, forearm and hand.

headache relief

If you’re a back sleeper:

The goal is to support your head and neck while also keeping your neck in line with the rest of the spine. In the picture below, you see how too many pillows can raise the head so it’s no longer in line with the rest of the spine. Another important point about this picture is that the pillows are there to support your head and neck, and need not be under your shoulders. Pull the pillow under your head so that it fills the curve under your neck.

headache relief
headache relief

Finally, if you have any shoulder issues, you can put a pillow under your arm from your armpit to your belly button to support the weight of the arm. This support will allow the muscles in the neck to turn off at night and rest because they no longer have to hold the weight of the arm.

headache relief

If this sounds like a lot of information all thrown at you at once, try it out one tip at a time – spend a few days at work focusing on getting your desk chair set up just right and see how you feel at the end of the week. Do the same with adjusting your car seat and being aware of where your shoulders are while driving. If you notice an ache in your head or shoulder blades, take a deep breath and let your shoulders drop toward the ground. The more often you check your posture, the more awareness you will develop and will be able to avoid headaches from the start. Also, experiment with pillows and sleeping position because a good night’s rest is crucial for health.
If you’ve tried all of these tips and still aren’t feeling the relief you hoped for, consult a physical therapist. It’s so easy to ignore headaches and hope they just go away, but resist the urge and be proactive about your health – be stronger than yesterday!

How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Sugar is a common term used to describe the white stuff on your coffee counter. It is a disaccharide that is broken down into glucose and fructose. “Sugars” are actually carbohydrates that are single saccharides, like glucose, and disaccharides like table sugar. Sugar the simplest form of the carbohydrates1 https://www.britannica.com/topic/sugar-chemical-compound.

Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes are also carbohydrates, as are kale, spinach, celery, tomatoes and fruit. Sugar and all other carbohydrates are turned in to glucose in the body. Glucose is transported by the blood to cells for fuel. All carbohydrates, from sugar to kale, can be categorized on a scale of how much of an effect they have to spike your blood sugar levels.

how to get off the sugar roller coaster live love eat SeptemberWhen we consume carbohydrates our liver converts them into glucose and sends it out into the blood stream. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin. Insulin is the hormone that sends a signal to the cells to open their doors and allow glucose into the cell to be used for immediate energy or storage. The more glucose the liver pumps into the blood, the more insulin the pancreas has to send out.
If the amount of sugar in the blood stream is chronically high the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin. The pancreas can become burned out and stop producing insulin (this is the beginning of a disease called Diabetes Mellitus type 2).

When there is not enough insulin to shuttle the sugar in to the cells, the sugar is left in the blood stream. The sugar in the blood stream can create major problems which include: Damages to the arteries; sugar acts like a scouring pad on the inside of the artery walls causing arterial damage which leads to plaque buildup and cardiovascular disease. Sugar in the blood suppresses the immune system: 1 tsp of sugar suppresses the immune systemfood by 70% for up to 6 hours (not surprising that flu season follows so closely behind the holiday season. Think about all the parties…sugar consumption and alcohol consumption (which is just concentrated sugar).

With the rage of low carbohydrate diets out there, it is important to note what type of carbohydrates you are consuming. The spikes and crashes in blood sugar not only are bad for us but the highs and lows create stress and inflammation. The roller coaster of blood sugar levels makes us feel crappy throughout the day. If you can maintain your blood glucoses at a consistent level, then you will feel better. By eating lower glycemic carbohydrates combined with good sources of fats and lean proteins, the liver and pancreas will not be as taxed.
Glycemic Index scale measures each food’s effect on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is a tool to tell us how much 50 g of a certain food will spike blood sugar; the foods are rated from 1- 100 (pure glucose being 100.) The Glycemic Load (GL) tells us how much a normal serving size will spike our blood sugar. GL is combination of GI and serving size. GL tends to be more accurate measure for weight loss and health, for example the GI of watermelon is 70 which is high. Which is measure 50 grams of the food. So for a GI of 70 one person would have to consume one pound of watermelon in one sitting. The GL of watermelon is 4, a low measure as it is based on actual number of carbs consumed with a normal s serving size. Another example of a high GI but low GL are Carrots: GI 71 (high) GL 6 (low) because the GI is based on sugars in 1.5 pounds of carrots. To find out more information on the GI and GL of foods look here http://www.glycemicindex.com /foodSearch.php

Glycemic Index Glycemic Load
High 70- 100 >20
Medium 56- 69 11-19
Low < 55 <10

Low glycemic carbs (basically veggies) fats and proteins are a slow burning fuel sources. Once our body gets accustomed to using fats and protein for fuel the body is able to maintain a steady source of energy to function throughout the day. By using fats and proteins for fuel we are able to decrease cravings, maintain energy for hours and most importantly, feed brain tissues.

Fueling yourself on carbohydrates will keep you satiated for a very short time, you will have to eat much more frequently throughout the day. Your blood sugar and insulin levels will spike and plummet. Your hunger and carbohydrate/sugar cravings are caused by the dependency on an inefficient fuel source. This is most notable around 3 the afternoon, when the cravings for a Frappuccino and a cookie are more than anyone can bear!

GOOD fats are essential for brain health, cell membrane health, heart health and nerve function. Fats are needed for the absorption of vitamins A, D, and K- without which we see immune, mental, bone and cardiovascular health plummet. Using a good quality olive oil to your salads or sautéing your vegetables in coconut oil will increase absorption of vitamins by at least 20%.

The biggest offenders of high glycemic meals are processed foods. Breads, baked goods, processed grains, potatoes all have high GI/GL . To add insult to injury the vitamin density of these foods is lower than other foods.

Here are some comparisons of Glycemic index

Tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, ham or bacon, 2 eggs
Glycemic Index 17
Cheerios 1/2 cup: skim milk, 8oz:
Glycemic Index 106
1 cup: Sweet Potato full of phytonutrients, B6, Manganese, Vit A and C,
Glycemic Load 12
1 cup: Rice minimal nutrients, manganese-mostly added after refinement.
Glycemic load 24-53
1/2 cup: Steel cut oats, slow cook:
Glycemic Load: 6.4
1/2 cup: Instant Oatmeal:
Glycemic Load 13.7

To reduce your glycemic intake, focus on dark leafy green veggies, cruciferous vegetables, organic sources of clean lean animal protein, and healthy fats (coconut, avocado, tallow and olive oils). Even natural sugars such as fruit and honey will still spike insulin and should be consumed in moderation. Here are two great recipe ideas for lower glycemic meals. Links to original web-sites included.


3 Cups Purple Cabbage, Chopped
1 Cup Cucumber, Chopped
1/3 Cup Purple Onion, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Green Mango, Diced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamin Vinegar
Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.


1 Lb Grass Fed Ground Beef
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/4 Cup Green Salsa

Brown meat, add seasoning and salsa, stir and eat on a lettuce leaf topped with the purple cabbage slaw, avocado and fresh cilantro.


Mustard Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Chicken

  • 2 4-5lb whole chickens
  • 2 Tbsp lard, extra virgin coconut oil, or unsalted butter (I used lard)
  • 2 Tbsp brown or Dijon-style mustard  (check ingredients GLUTEN-FREE )
  • 1 ½ Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (measure after chopping, or use 1 Tbsp dried)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Remove chickens from packaging, pat dry with paper towels, remove any giblets (save these for making bone broth!) and place on your roasting pan, using the rack insert that comes with the pan.
  3. Melt lard or coconut oil and mix with Dijon and rosemary.  Baste the entire surface of both chickens with the mustard sauce (I just use my hands).
  4. Roast chickens for 20 minutes per pound (or until a meat thermometer reads at least 165F—it’s standard to cook until breast meat reads 180F).
  5. Make pan gravy with the juices if desired.  Carve and serve!


By learning which foods will give you the most nutritional value with the least amount of sugar you can lose weight, reduce your inflammation, and generally feel better fairly quickly. Making consistent small adjustments to your diet will teach your body how to use a more efficient healthier fuel source. If you are used to eating a high glycemic diet which the standard American diet is this way of eating may take a bit of time to get used to. Once you have it down you will see the difference in energy levels, reduction in cravings and improvement in general well-being that will make the effort worth it.