Do you get tension headaches often? Do you work on a computer a lot? And did you know that the tension in your forearms is quite often partially responsible for the tension headaches you get. How, you ask? I like it when you indulge me with such questions.
I recently ran a free webinar about Thai Massage (can be found here) and one of the questions that came through after I talked everyone through 3 really useful self-massage techniques was “how is forearm discomfort connected to headaches?”.
And it was a great question, because you might not ordinarily think the two are linked, but I’d like to tell you a little story about how the arm-bone is connected to the head-bone. Well, not really in such a childhood chant-kind-of-way – but the same basic idea.
As part of the work that the muscles of our forearm perform, one primary job they have to do when typing, is to hold your fingers up and away from the keyboard when you pause for thought – or hover above the mouse before you click or scroll. Those periods of hovering a some decent work for the extrinsic extensors of your fingers – this means the muscles that create extension of the fingers but have the muscle belly outside of the hand.
These extrinsic extensors are an inseparable part of what some anatomists call the “Superficial Back Arm Line” pr the SBAL for short. The SBAL is not only a fascial continuation but also a kinetic chain. When we think of kinetic chains, I’d like you to think about muscles that fire together commonly to create actions. These muscles of the SBAL include the trapezius muscle, and it just so happens that the “traps” are attached to the base of your skull.
At this point I’d also like you to think about kinetic chains or myofascial meridians as a taught string. When you place a load anywhere on a taught string it distributes that force along it’s full length, and usually more of the load gets sent to the ends of the string. When we look at the body then, placing a load anywhere on the SBAL is going to have an impact on the upper trapezius as well.
When we combine those little extra forces of contraction in the forearm with a bunch of other factors, including not moving your shoulders whilst sitting at a desk, we start to see how tension can be passed up the forearms to the trapezius and can ultimately irritate a whole bunch of those nerve endings that are located at the base of our skull. With that constant irritation, I’d be upset too – and now you can see how your head gets a little upset with you.
So now that you know how they are linked, what can you do about it to prevent those tension headaches? Well, firstly – watch the webinar recording, because I give you three great techniques there, and secondly read this blog on how to reduce neck and shoulder tension at work with regular movement.
Enjoy getting rid of those tension headaches for good.