Why Chocolate, Stress and Poor Posture Don't Cause Your Headaches

The Misleading Causes


I know you might think that chocolate, wine, stress, bad posture or another factor might cause your headaches but I can guarantee that they are not the cause!

A little science and then I will tell you about Jackie.

Consider how important knowing the aetiology or the basis of any condition/disease. If you want to be enabled to provide the very best of care, you will want to know the specifics of its cause from a gross to molecular level.

It is why I always address the core problems of someone's condition and make the specific corrections rather than just focusing on often misleading symptoms.

More specific and accurate care will lead to better results!

But whether it is due to a socially conditioned connection or the simple association of stimuli and response, we often find some obvious factor to blame for a health problem. 

Explaining a cold as the result of poor weather instead of inhaling a rhinovirus might lead us to wash our hands less often and be more at risk of getting sick. Our misunderstanding have a huge implication in terms of how we best take care of ourselves.

When it comes to headaches, most people will associate it with a few specific causes

The Leading Causes


I want to tell you that it simply isn’t true.

The majority of headaches that chiropractors manage successfully like migraines (with or without aura), tension headaches, or cervicogenic (coming from the neck) are the result of irritation of pain and sensory nerves of the upper back and neck. Headaches are the result of an irritated and dysfunctional nerves associated with the upper spine. Period. Full Stop.

If these nerves are calm and healthy then you will not have a headache.

When the joints and muscles of the cervical vertebrae in the neck become irritated by chemical or physical stimuli they send a signal to the brain that it interrupted as pain or a headache. If the neck and its nerves do not get irritated to a painful threshold, even when placed on external stress, then no headache will result.

But if your posture is poor enough or stress is causing your to tighten your spine muscles tight enough, it might excite and activate the nerves associated with headache like symptoms.

Factors like posture, diet, a lack of sleep, stress and many other directly or indirectly stress your nervous system, that if sensitive enough, might cause a headache. But they are never the sole cause.

If we thought that posture is a causative factors for headaches than headache sufferers should find immediate relief when their posture improves; this simply doesn’t happen. 

Likewise, we might not have pain every time we are stressed out but notice it is more likely if we have also been eating and sleeping poorly.



Many of these factors add together to stress our nervous system and our well evolved bodies is kind enough to let us know to change what we are doing in the form of a headache when we hit our nervous system’s threshold.

The more stressors, the greater intensity of the stressors or the more susceptible the nervous system and the more likely you will have symptoms whether we are talking about headaches or running injuries. 

Therefore is important to identify these factors as contributing and not causative.

The key is to manage the core problem causing the condition and make the nervous system less susceptible to stress.

The key is not to tackle headaches by focusing solely on the factors that lead to them but ensuring that the actually machinery in the body is more tolerant and stress resistant. 

When the spine and nervous system start to function properly and the nerves of the neck are less irritated and susceptible to stress, it will take more and more contributing factors to cause a headache.



A patient we will call Jackie (no not my partner) that I began seeing in November told me at her initial Neurofunctional Chiropractic Assessment that she suffered from multiple headaches in a given week that were debilitating. I was shocked and upset because she was such a lovely young woman barely in her 20s and had failed to have any relief despite a number of other interventions. 

Upon palpating her neck it was obvious that the upper neck was extremely irritated and sensitive to the point that gentle challenge of the upon neck joints caused headache like symptoms.

Fast forward a few months and Jackie has not had more than a handful of headaches since. I can palpate her neck without us grimacing in pain at its dysfunctional state. She can tolerate stress, poor sleep, getting back to the gym and now activities of a normal life that were once all contributors to headache and misery.

It is always and important part of our care to try to improve lifestyle factors and reduce negative stressors but doesn’t it make sense to actually fix the underlying problem safely, specifically and effectively so it doesn’t come back?

Alex Ritza Cover Photo.png

This article was contributed by Dr Alex Ritza, special friend and associate to the personal trainers of Your House Fitness.

If you think that your health is holding you back or want to feel and perform even better, Dr Alex can help.

Dr Alex is a chiropractor and neurofunctional acupuncture provider practicing at Park Road Healing Arts near Yonge and Bloor. He helps people to achieve more from their bodies by restoring and optimization function of the nervous system. If you are looking to improve your health in general or have specific concerns like neck or back pain, headaches, poor posture, numbness and tingling or chronic sports injuries, he looks forward to helping with compassionate care.