If you are experiencing headaches that seem to start at your neck and work up to your head then you may be experiencing a cervicogentic headache, which literally means a headache that originates from the cervical spine and radiates up to your head. This is caused by an irritation to either the muscles of your neck or from the joints themselves.
Cervicogenic headaches can be caused from poor posture especially when sat at a computer or when texting as these positions can place a large amount of strain onto your neck muscles, that over time will lead to increased tension and possibly a repetitive strain injury. Take a look at the image below to see just how much force your neck has to handle just by tilting your head forward to read a phone screen!
The general symptoms of a cervicogenic head include
- Unilateral or one sided head pain
- Headaches comes on when holding neck in awkward positions just as texting, computer work or holding a phone between your head and shoulder.
- Pain is usually described being deep but non throbbing (may become throbbing if migraine it triggered)
- Restricted range of motion in neck
- Other symptoms may mimic a migraine such as sensitivity to light, nausea or pain in the shoulder/arm of the same side as the headache.
If you think you are experiencing cervicogenic headaches, the first action you must take to prevent them from developing is to avoid the triggers and to address your posture. If you work in an office make sure you are sat facing your computer straight on, you have a headset if you regularly take phone calls and that you adjust your chair and screen height so that you the screen is straight ahead. I will be writing more on ergonomics and how to set up your desk in a later blog post.
A postural assessment and corrective exercise programme will also help address any muscle imbalances and help strengthen your postural muscles. Alongside, osteopathic treatment to help relieve tight and restricted joints and muscles. In the meantime, try the stretches below to help alleviate a headache.
If you would like more information on cervicogenic headaches or you think you may be suffering with them. Feel free to contact me on 07500059064, email email@example.com or contact us on facebook and I would be happy to provide any advice I can.
Yours in Health
Andrew Graves, Osteopath & Sports Therapist
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon usually caused by repetitive loading from sports such as running, sprinting, basketball, tennis or any sport that requires a quick powerful push off from the ground. Technically speaking it is a para-tendinopathy which means its actually the outer layers of the tendon that have become irritated and inflamed.
The achilles is an incredibly strong tendon which is able to handle forces well over 10x body weight! and when you consider the average runner will have loading rates of around 3-4x body weight PER STEP then it becomes easy to see why this tendon is one of the most commonly injury in sports. First, it must be said that these loads and forces are what the achilles has evolved to handle, so it is not the running per se that is the problem. The problem really begins with poor bio-mechanics (alignment of the body). With poor alignment comes aberrant or faulty loading of the tendon which over time leads to the inflammation of the achilles.
What are the typical symptoms?
-Pain in the heel - Maybe sharp especially the first few steps after being sat down.
- Swelling around the ankle
- Pain when pointing toes
- A thickening of the tendon - Usually a sign of a chronic problem.
- Can lead to further complications such as achilles rupture if left untreated
How you can treat it
First of all it is recommend that you have a bio-mechanical assessment done. As we can pin point any compensations and put corrective strategies in place to correct any imbalances that lead to the problem in the first place.
However, The literature is showing that eccentric exercise is by far and away the most effective treatment you can do yourself, as this will stimulate the healing process but also stimulate the formation of collagen fibres that will help strengthen the tendon.
The best and easiest way to achieve this is by using a step at home. Place your toes at the end of the step and slowly lower your heal to the floor. Pause and then return to the top of the position. As you can see in the video below.
It is recommended that you follow a 4-1-2 rep count. 4 seconds down, Pause for 1 second and then return to the top position for a count of 2. The progression for this is simple. Add weight to your body, an easy way of doing this at home is to place some weight in a backpack and but it on. repeat 2- 3 x per day.
Please note this exercise advice is for information purposes only. It is advised that you see a qualified therapist who can evaluate your personal requirements.
If you have any questions or you think you might have an achilles problem feel free to contact me on either via email firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively call me on 07500059064 and I'll be happy to provide any advice that I can.
Yours in Health
Andrew Graves M.Ost
A winged scapula or shoulder blade is caused by a weakness to the serratus anterior muscle which has the job of keeping the shoulder blade flush against the rib cage, as you can see in the picture above the shoulder blade is raising from the rib cage causing the winged effect.
Is this a serious problem?
Well that depends. A true winging scapula is due to a paralysis of the long thoracic nerve which is a more serious cause and may not be able to be corrected. However, the vast majority of people who say, or have been told they have a winged scapular, either have a weakness of the serratus anterior muscle itself or who have a co-ordination issue with the shoulder complex. This typically develops over time and usually affects office workers who end up slouching at the desk. If you are an active individual that requires good mobility and stable shoulders then it can cause problems, as the serratus anterior muscle is important for shoulder stability. However, if you are currently not super active then it may not cause you many problems to begin with, but overtime the muscle can begin to become irritated and develop what osteopaths call trigger points (irritable painful areas within the tissue), that can refer pain elsewhere in the body. As you can see in the images below. More on this in a later blog post.
Correcting this postural imbalance does require some time and effort as you need to learn how to control your scapula and strengthen the serratus anterior muscle. Below is a few exercises that will help you get started.
These exercises can be done as a gradual progression to begin the re-strengthening process and help reintegrate the serratus anterior with the shoulder complex and the whole body as a unit.
If you are experiencing shoulder or neck pain and would like to speak to someone about your problem you can contact me on 07500059064 alternatively you can email email@example.com
I hope this helps
Cwmbran, Pontypool & Abergavenny Osteopath
Andy has been involved in the health & fitness industry for over 10 years, specialising in corrective exercise, injury prevention and rehabilitation of low back, neck and shoulder pain. He also has an interest in the use of Osteopathy for the management of headaches.