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A hands-on cure for that office headache

January 14, 2011

It’s easy to blame headaches on the accounting issue complexities tackled on a daily basis. All that focus and concentration towards a single problem would seemingly leave anyone mentally drained and hurt. If this were actually the case, then most accountants wouldn’t last long in the industry. Too many heads would explode from pain.

Oftentimes, painful and anti-productive tension headaches are caused by neglecting to take into account your own body during long work hours. Sitting in front of the computer typically results in tightness of the upper trapezius (trap) and neck musculature. When these muscles get tight, resulting from the forward leaning of your head, it can create headache-like symptoms that can have you turning to painkillers very quickly. The obvious problem with this quick fix is that it simply masks the underlying issue and creates potential for far worse problems if the muscle tightness is not corrected. The reality is that simple proactive lifestyles and small adjustments to your daily grind could be the missing ingredient to stopping and preventing those nagging headaches.

Self massage the traps

Releasing some of the tightness in the traps will provide instant relief to tension headaches created by improper workplace ergonomics. There are multiple ways to do this effectively. For one, you can place a tennis ball on the floor and lie on it. With your knees bent, position the tennis ball between the floor and your upper trap area. With your knees bent, lift your body off the ground to distribute more of your body weight directly on top of the tennis ball. This will make the pressure stronger and is illustrated here.

Another way of achieving the same relief is to simply use your hands. Grasp and pinch along your trapezius muscles with as much pressure as you feel comfortable with. Maintain pressure for roughly 10 seconds, slide your fingers an inch along the muscle and repeat the process until the entirety of the trap muscle is squeezed.

Simple neck stretches

Stretching the neck is a simple yet effective tool for relieving tension headaches. You can lean your head to one side until you feel the stretch and then maintain that stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on both sides. Other easy neck stretches include performing the same pattern, but turning your head to one side until the stretch is felt and maintaining the stretch. Lastly, the neck stretch in the illustration provided here shows a very effective way of stretching the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), an important muscle that significantly contributes to tension headaches. 


Luke Sniewski currently works as a CPA as well as a Fitness Consultant. He works by weaving the health and wellness world with the business professional world. Working with companies and business professionals, his organization, LEAF, teaches the PAIN CPE course series that aims to improve the overall quality of life through the implementation of proactive lifestyles. Visit for more details.

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