Chronic Migraines: Your headaches are being caused by your posture

Chronic Migraines: Your headaches are being caused by your posture

According to the National Headache Foundation more than 37 million Americans ages 15 to 55 suffer from migraines, many of which have never even been diagnosed or often misdiagnosed as something as simple as a sinus headache or tension headache. This particular type of chronic headache can be experienced with a visible aura as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Occasionally sufferers will have tingling in their arms or face and even difficulty speaking.

Most commonly pinned, as the culprit for this chronic headache is the trigeminal nerve in the brain that releases chemicals that irritate blood vessels in the brain. However, often unmentioned is the affect of incorrect posture in relationship to causing this chronic problem.

Your bad posture is placing stress on your brainstem.

The brainstem exits the base of your skull through a hole called the foramen magnum and turns into the spinal cord that runs all the way down your spine to the base of your sacrum, which is the area, you sit on. The spine has 3 curves (Cervical, thoracic, lumbar) that support your body and protect this spine.   As our posture compensates it will often change these curves in the spine. If these curves begin to increase they begin to stretch the spine. This tension placed anywhere on the spine can directly affect the brainstem. A reduction in the normal curve in the cervical spine, which can be seen in people with Forward Head Posture, was directly found to have an increase in headaches as well as an increase in weakness of the neck.

Our posture is a direct outcome of our daily lifestyle or habits. If you are in a postural position that puts your head forward of your body this begins to straighten the curve of the neck. This is a bad thing as there should be a curve there. Sitting in front of a computer, or looking down for extended periods of time without postural breaks develop this forward head posture. It changes the curve of the spine and adds pressure to the brainstem and nervous system.   If you are currently suffering from migraines this very well could be the root cause of it. If you have this incorrect postural distortion pattern, you may begin to develop headaches in the future.

A simple way to check this is to look at your head position in your pictures. If your pictures show you with your head forward of your shoulders then you have a postural distortion pattern. If you are unsure, or want a professional opinion, the American Posture Institute offers Postural Diagnosis Online, to give you the information you need to determine your postural problems and how to correct them.

4 Tips to correct Postural Headaches

  • Take Posture Breaks
    1. Take a 20 second break every 30 minutes to stretch your muscles, and stand up.
  • Use a Posture Reminder
    1. Place an object in your workspace that will serve as your postural reminder. Every time you see this reminder, remember to sit up straight and focus on your posture.
  • Strengthen your Neck muscles
    1. Stand with your back against a wall. Place a small cushion (pillow, towel, etc.) behind your head. Press your head gently into the cushion and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
  • Align Your Spine
    1. Lay on your back near the edge of your bed. Place a cushion (pillow, rolled up towel, etc.) under your neck. Place your head slightly off the edge of the bed, and allow gravity to pull your head down, increasing the proper curve of the neck.

For more information on how your posture may be causing your health problems, how to stay healthy through proper posture, or for more ways to improve your posture contact Dr. Mark Wade at : [email protected] or find more information like this at

Written By:
Dr. Mark Wade DC, DRPH, CPE, CPEP,
Posture Expert
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor Of Public Health
CEO American Posture Institute



  • Watson, D. H., & Trott, P. H. (1993). Cervical headache: an investigation of natural head posture and upper cervical flexor muscle performance. Cephalalgia, 13(4), 272-284.
  • National Headache Foundation
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