The Headache Clinic
The Headache Clinic

February 15, 2022

Make back-to-school less of a headache

The return of the school year is often when our students will experience an increased risk of headache and migraine. With all the mask-wearing and social changes to our school days at the moment, the last thing we need to add to this is headache or migraine. 

With hot and often humid weather, slouching in your chair or lying on your school desk seems like an attractive option. Combine that with the fact that you can’t sleep in until midday like you were during the holidays, some dehydration, plus the stress and anxiety about your new class, new teachers, and the gorgeous new kid who is sitting next to you in maths…what’s the end result? Headache or, even worse, migraine.

Head pain has a huge impact on how we can concentrate and function, so as we get into another year of study - it’s important to ensure that it’s started off on the right foot!

What causes headaches and migraines?

To understand how to deal with head pain, we need to understand what is causing it in the first place. When no pathology is present, the brainstem plays a significant role in headaches and migraines.

The brainstem is a structure found at the base of the brain that receives information directly from the top of the neck and the head itself. We know that people who suffer from headaches and migraines have a sensitised brainstem, which results in reduced tolerance to normal events in the body, such as tiredness, stress, and dehydration.

A common cause of this brainstem sensitivity is a dysfunction or issue at the top of the neck. This dysfunction can be caused by a trauma to the head or neck area (think whiplash) or from sustained pressure applied to the top of the neck - such as the forward head posture when sitting looking at your phone. 

Our 5 top tips for reducing the risk of headache and migraine

To help reduce the dysfunction at the top of the neck, we’ve come up with 5 top tips!

1. Posture is key! When in class or doing your homework, ensure that you are sitting with good posture. Make sure that your head is aligned on top of your shoulders and not hanging forward. One of the worst places to sit doing homework is on your bed with all your work out in front of you! 

2. Make sure your screen font is large enough to comfortably read from a good posture to prevent your head from craning forward. Craning forward will put a lot of pressure through the structures at the top of the neck and increase the likelihood of headaches and migraines. 

3. When looking down at your study material, try nodding your head on top of your neck rather than moving your head and neck as one unit. 

4. Make the most of your breaks between class. Go for a short walk and be observant, moving your head to look around you.

5. Prioritise sleep. It’s really hard to hold it all together when you’re tired! 

Research also shows that poor alignment at the top of the neck can reduce the blood flow to the brain, which is something you need a lot of when you are studying! 

If this sounds like you and you’d like more information on this, feel free to give us a call at 0800 HEADACHE (0800 432 322) or email [email protected]. We have a discounted student rate!

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