Headaches can be caused by poor working posture and position, eyesight problems, dehydration, hormones, stress and sickness. Headaches can be classified into different types which affect different areas of the head and face, they can differ in duration and intensity. 

A common headache which affects a large section of the population can be a tension/stress-induced headache. When we become stressed we tend to become tense within the neck, shoulder and upper back areas which is typically the root cause of these headaches. 

Why Does Muscle Tension Cause Headache?

The muscles that originate from the bottom of the neck, upper back, and shoulder region insert into the base of the skull and side of the head. 

Increases in tightness, and sometimes the weakness of these muscles starts to create tension – meaning the muscles and their attachments start to excessively pull on the skull and cause a headache. 

Tension from poor working positions or prolonged periods of looking down at a laptop or phone is easy to develop as the muscles and their attachments are over tensioned for long periods – this then generates symptoms of headaches. 

Treatment for Your Headache 

If you have developed a headache, treating it can depend on how severe it is and how long it lasts. An average tension headache can last between 30 mins to a few hours. Lavallee Health Centre can help reduce symptoms along with the following: 

Prevention – If your work is causing the headache, correct your working position, stop looking down for long periods, and ensure you have your work station at the right height and take regular breaks. If stress is the cause – make sure you address the root cause of your stress, manage your work-life balance and exercise regularly. 

Pain Relief – easily available, cheap, over the counter pain killers are an effective way to take the intensity out of a headache. 

Massage – get a massage to the head and neck areas – this minimises and controls tension in the affected areas. If you can’t get a massage – using a handheld self-massage tool is a great way to give yourself some much needed TLC. Consider regular massage therapy to help manage any long term headaches. 

Movement & Stretching – perform simple head movements to improve neck movement, then if possible, try some gentle neck stretching, holding your head into different directions for a minimum of 15-20 seconds per time using your hands. Gentle shoulder rolling backwards and forwards is also a great way of reducing tension in the main muscle groups that cause tension headaches. 

Heat – there are multiple options for heat therapy including microwaveable hot packs, hot water bottles, adhesive heat pads, and heat creams applied to the neck and shoulders can help to distract you from your symptoms and reduce their intensity. 


Tension headaches are often caused by stress and poor prolonged positions and postures which place too much strain on our neck and head – ensure you are changing position, breaking regularly, managing your stress and exercising to keep your body fit and strong to avoid tension headaches!