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Headaches Part 3: Creating a Strong, Stable Spine

In the last 2 blogs, we have focused on the causes of headaches and their connection to posture.  Hopefully you’ve tried the tips for sitting at your desk and driving. I am sure you’ve noticed that good posture is a lot of work!

You would think that something as basic as sitting or standing up straight would come naturally. We aren’t designed to sit at a desk, grip a steering wheel or stare at a screen for hours on end, but unfortunately our modern world demands it.

Everyday life makes it easy to acquire a posture where your head and shoulders are more forward than they should be, which places excess strain on our joints and muscles. It takes a conscious and concerted effort to maintain good posture at first, but the more time you spend in good posture, the more natural and automatic it will become.

One recommendation I give my patients is to do a posture check every time they stop at a red light. Taking a few seconds to recognize where your body is will help establish this pattern and eventually it will become instinctive.

When you come to a stop:

1. Become aware of the position of your shoulders.

        -Are they rolled forward?

        -Are they shrugged up toward your ears because the person in front of you is         driving like a crazy person.

2.  Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down, engage the muscles in the middle of the back to support yourself.

3. Next think about where your head is in relation to the shoulders.

         -Is your chin pushing forward? If so, the position needs correcting.

         -Are your ears in line vertically with the outside edge of your shoulders?

4. Imagine a string coming out of the top of the head and up through the roof of your car. If this sting pulls you upward, it allows your spine to elongate and the chin to tuck back into the neck slightly. It’s also important to remember to keep your head level with the horizon; the chin tuck shouldn’t leave you looking at the floor.

Frequent posture checks at work can be a bit trickier because it’s easy to get into a work groove and lose track of time, so find a cue that will remind you to check. Perhaps it’s whenever someone comes by to chat with you, or every time you reach for a water bottle or coffee cup; just pick a cue and stick to it.

Now that your awareness is improving by leaps and bounds, here are some of our favorite exercises to help you maintain your beautiful, new-found posture. These exercises focus on the muscles in the upper back. The upper back is crucial for supporting the spine and preventing a forward slump that’s all too easy to fall into.

Chin Tucks

Chin tucks restore the natural position of the neck. This allows the vertebrae to stack on top of each other creating an open space for the nerves to exit freely.

Roll 2 hand towels lengthwise individually, then place them on the floor forming and X

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1.Lay on your stomach with the towels under the front of your shoulders and your nose just below where they cross.

2. Tuck your chin into your neck as you lift your head slightly off the floor. The goal is to keep your forehead parallel with the floor and give yourself a double chin.

3. Hold 3 seconds then relax back down to the floor.

**Keep your chest pressed into the floor.

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Prone I’s, W’s and Y’s

I Lie down on the floor on your towel X with your arms down by your sides

1.     Tuck your chin into your neck

2.     Lift your arms off the floor using the muscles between your shoulder blades.

3.     Hold 3 seconds then relax back down to the floor.

**keep hands lower than elbows

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W  Lie down on the floor on your towel X  with your hands up at the same level as ears elbow bent

1.     Tuck your chin into your neck

2.     Squeeze shoulder blades together to raise arms off the floor

3.     Hold 3 seconds then relax back down to the floor.

**keep hands lower than elbows

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Y  Same starting position as above hands in front of your head ( like you are dancing to the YMCA song)

1.     Tuck your chin into your neck

2.     Squeeze shoulder blades together to raise arms off the floor

3.     Hold 3 seconds then relax back down to the floor.

**Keep chest pressed into the floor

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Check out the videos on our Youtube channel to see how Danielle does the exercise with perfect form!

Chin Tuck Progression 

Prone I’s 

Prone Y’s