Migraines are a Pain in the Neck

Yeah, I know, they’re a pain in the head, neck and if you’re really lucky, the stomach, too. But that makes for a really wordy and awkward headline.

When I wrote about tech neck as a result of too much technology, I touched on two of the downstream effects of tech neck; headaches and migraines. Let’s talk a little more about that.

Do you suffer migraines? If you’re not sure, you probably don’t, and you may consider yourself lucky. For you non-migraine suffers out there, imagine the worst headache you’ve ever had, dial it up to 11, paint a haze across the world, turn every noise into fingernails on a chalkboard, and make even dim light feel like an icepick behind the eyes. All at the same time, and if you’re really lucky, you’re nauseous as well. That’s a migraine.

Even if you don’t suffer migraines, everyone has a headache once in a while, and we all know headaches suck. A pain you can’t escape which can only be dulled, not fixed, is no fun.

If you have tech neck, you’re opening yourself up to these problems.

Even without tech neck, if you carry tension in your shoulders and upper back, you’re opening yourself up to these problems.

How do I know all this? Well, I lived it. Turns out migraines run in the family. Thanks, Dad.

Like my father before me, I developed migraines in university and I first noticed them after drafting lab. Who could have imagined spending 4 hours hunched over a drafting table could cause back, neck and eye strain? Anyway, when I think back to Fridays first year (no class break from 8 to 6, end of the week, finishing off with drafting) I find three of my personal migraine triggers; mental stress, exhaustion and  the physical stress of head forward posture.

At least it wasn’t Tech Neck back then. I mean, come on, I was learning old school drafting; drawing board, pencil and paper. Smart phones were more than a decade away.

This dogged me for 25 years. Mental stress, poor sleep and bad posture, along with environmental triggers like weather changes and travel. The only thing I could do was hit them, as soon as I felt them coming on, before they took hold, with pain killers, anti inflammatories, and coffee. And then ride it out.

I missed out on a lot of stuff, lying in the dark, Chopin playing very quietly on the stereo, ice packs on my head and neck.

Funny thing, though. After a year, maybe a year and a half of Bikram Yoga, I noticed the frequency of my migraines had dropped dramatically. Why? Because I had addressed three of my triggers; sleep deprivation, mental stress, and shoulder and neck tension.

Funny thing about hot yoga, it’s hard exercise, it’s exhausting, and it’s a really good way to get stretched out. These three qualities of the Bikram hot box directly attacked my migraine triggers; I destressed, I got more and better sleep, and I stretched out much of the tension in my back, neck and shoulders. Now I live largely migraine free.

I still had Tech Neck, but ridding myself of that is a story for another day.

Cross posted at Medium.com.

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