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My terrible posture

My terrible posture

Growing up, I was quite the water baby.  Every summer, I was at the neighborhood pool the moment it opened for the season. I was on the swim team as soon as I was eligible and found out quickly that I was both comfortable and very fast in the water.  For a few years, I even attended an intensive summer swimming sports camp—I was the odd man out in that I was one of the few swimmers who only did summer league and not year-round swimming.

Back to that neighborhood pool in the 80s and 90s though.

There was a pool dad there nearly every day—a fit guy with military bearing who was buddies with my dad.  I’m sure it wasn’t as often as I remember, but in my memory it seems that every single adult swim (the fifteen minutes each hour when kids had to get out of the pool for a break), I would encounter Mr. B. and he would have The Talk with me.

No, not that talk. The talk about MY POSTURE.

“Shoulders back, shoulders back!” he would say to me as I waited out the speech so I could make way to the ice cream machine.  He explained to me how my swimming would be even faster if I stood up tall and straight. He told me I was already tall and would end up being a very tall person, and posture was especially important for me.

I merely waited him out, nodded my head, and went back to slumping.

It’s a good twenty-five years later and I still wonder what Mr. B. would say if he could see me now. I’m sure I’d be greeted with, “Shoulders back, shoulders back!” like in the old days, as I usually do not stand up straight.  I’ve always assumed this is because, nine times out of ten, I am taller than the person I am speaking with and inadvertently try to even out by leaning on one foot, leaning on a counter, and even hunching (more than) a little.

My desk posture is preposterously bad, you guys.  Even now, while I am writing about bad posture, I am in a poor position at best.  My chair (a kitchen chair with an old and inefficient cloth-covered foam pad on it—for “comfort”) is scooted a good 2-3 feet away from my desk, my wrists are resting on the laptop (when they should be poised above the keyboard), my mid-back is arched, and my head is jutting forward kind of like a skinny turtle.

I know that my posture plays a role in my migraines, especially since I have so much neck pain before, during, and after my attacks—oftentimes, neck pain is a trigger for me.  I just fall into this lifelong bad habit again and again.  I have tried but failed to stick with yoga (which helped with posture somewhat).  Walking and exercise help my posture a lot, but lately I’ve mainly been walking to work for exercise, and having a backpack on my back doesn’t help with my tall, “shoulders back!” stance.

I’d love to hear from those of you who used to have bad posture but have since improved.  What did you do to make your posture better? How, if at all, did changing your posture for the better help with your migraines? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • jojobaggins
    2 years ago

    I really think this is a trigger for me, too.

    Look into the work of Esther Gokhale. She has some videos on YouTube and a website for her work on improving posture.

    I’ve been trying to incorporate her lessons on stack sitting specifically while I’m at work and it seems to be helping my posture.

  • theovenbird
    4 years ago

    I used to have terrible desk posture. Getting a proper computer chair (the cheapest kind with no arms so I can pull it far in, and now I don’t lean so far back and I have it adjusted to the right height for the table) as well as switching to an external keyboard so I don’t rest my wrists on the keyboard has helped a ton. It has made a huge difference to my arm tendinitis that had spread up into my shoulder… I am not sure if it has affected my migraines (usually my migraine neck pain is on the opposite side than my tendinitis-caused pain) but they were such simple improvements that I would recommend others try them them to see if they make a difference.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    theovenbird,

    I’m moving next week and am thinking about getting a new desk chair for my office. Glad to hear that an inexpensive chair is working for you! Last time I invested in a “nice” chair it wore out quickly and the arms got in the way. I may have to get an external keyboard as well, because despite my knowing not to rest my wrists on the laptop, I do it all the time.

    Thanks for your input, and sorry it took me awhile to get back to you!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Rachel P
    4 years ago

    I’ve been in Physical Therapy for just shy of a month, going to help with my migraines. I really wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but I figured “hey, why not give it a shot?” I went to PT a few years back for a problem with my knee and ITB, so I went back to the same group. During my evaluation I was told that there was no recoil or spring in my thoracic ribs, and that my posture was really bad. (I chalk it up to years of curving my shoulders in to hide those boobs that cropped up early). I also know that my head posture is a bit more forward than usual, and one of my exercises includes a chin tuck that is meant to strengthen my neck muscles and help make a proper neck alignment feel more natural. It was always something that I thought about, but never really knew how to fix or even thought I needed to fix.
    Well, after starting physical therapy, I went migraine free for three weeks. THREE WEEKS. Completely unheard of for me. Since starting physical therapy, I’ve only had two migraines, and they’ve both been less intense than I’m used to. I’m also more conscious of my posture now, and when sitting at my desk or when on the floor with a kid at work, I pay more attention to my alignment. It’s nowhere near fixed yet, and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’ve seen a definite decrease in the frequency and severity of my migraines since beginning physical therapy for my migraines. As a result, I’m going to ask my doctor if I can try to reduce the amount of preventative medication I’m taking each day. I’m going to be writing more about my experiences with physical therapy on my blog, and am hoping to make yoga a more regular practice (I’ve been one of those people who will go on a kick for a week or two and then just completely forget about it), but I know that it can greatly benefit my posture.
    If you’re interested in trying something, I’d look into Physical therapy if your insurance covers it. Especially a place that does Point Stim. That has been one of the most beneficial things for me personally.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thank you for this tremendously helpful tip. I’m beyond thrilled (no joke) to hear how well you’re doing. It’s been over a month since your comment–are things still good?

    I’m so unused to having insurance that it sometimes takes me a hot minute to realize that I now have health coverage. I may call my company and see what is covered–I’d always rather try lifestyle changes in lieu of new pills.

    Take care, and thanks again.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • jo17151
    4 years ago

    I’ve been practicing yoga on a regular basis for the past 4 years and it has made a considerable difference to my posture. It’s very evident when I look at photos taken a few years ago and compared to the present.

    While the duration/frequency/severity of migraine attacks has not changed, the tension headaches that accompany them have been greatly reduced.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Great feedback–thank you!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Mr. Grain
    4 years ago

    I’ve gone through several plans trying to improve my posture, but my neck always seems to be the limiting factor. That’s why I’m trying a new plan after reading Dr. Mauskop’s latest blog post:

    http://www.nyheadache.com/blog/neck-weakness-and-tension-type-headaches/#more

    I’m going to try these isometric exercises for a month to see if I can turn a corner.

    Yoga really helps, too, when I do it every morning for months. I also recently fell out of it. The app Yoga Studio helped me here. Finally, Egoscue physical therapy, The Gokhale Method, and Foundation Training are all programs worth checking out.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Great feedback–thank you so very much!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • venus45
    4 years ago

    Wow this really caught my attention! Last summer I was getting ” the spins” and it was my first “oh this is migraine” moment. I of course thought the headache and spins were related. Little by little I was sorted out physically and finally sent to a physical therapist. This woman had a halo and wings as far as I’m concerned. She took one look at me and said I know exactly why you are feeling dizzy. She taped my upper back in a big X and said this will show you how to correct your posture! My spins disappeared instantly! I can’t tell you how relieved I was and now I have a built in reminder, if I feel dizzy it means I am slumping. I have had head, neck and shoulder problems for years for lots of different reasons sport, working as a builder for a minute, and that old computer wrist neck hand arm thing. Everything feels better if I sit up straight.
    My father Mr H. :0) would walk up behind me and gently whack me between my shoulder blades when I was young and any time he noticed I would be given the ahem, “posture” ! I tried yoga, but it gave me the spins haha who knew. Now I can feel my migraine in the base of my head or what feels like a stiff neck. If I correct my posture sometimes it really helps calm the nausea. I just really related to your article and want to thank you for making me feel like this is not just “in my head”. You are an inspiration.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    venus45,

    Thank you for the very kind words and for the smart suggestions–I’m sorry it took me nearly two months to reply!

    “Everything feels better if I sit up straight,” you wrote, and I agree. So why is slumping my default “I’m relaxed” position? A question for the ages, I tell you.

    I am taking note of your story and seeing what I can do to make my posture better. Thank you!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • annelouise
    4 years ago

    i do still struggle with posture, but am helped immensely by a neurological physiotherapist who specialises in migraine. she can manipulate my head (which untreated has a natural resting place way in front of my shoulders) back about 3 inches in one treatment! I try and keep it that way with gentle yoga and pilates exercises. Stressful situations seem to send it right back (or should I say forward) to square one! If my head is aligned, it takes a greater number of triggers to set off a migraine…

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    annelouise,

    Fascinating perspective–thank you! I didn’t even know there was a speciality called neurological physiotherapy. I will have to look into that. Thank you for sharing your story; sorry it took so long for me to reply.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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