If you suffer from headaches, you may think it’s from tension in your neck and shoulders.

Sometimes where the pain shows up, in this case – your head – is not always the cause of the problem.  We’re going to look at how one muscle in your core may be a surprising cause of headaches.


Muscles Affecting Pelvis Alignment

There are a lot of muscles that influence your pelvis alignment.

The one we’re focusing on today is the Quadratus Lumborum (QL, pictured below.)  There is another matching QL on the opposite side.  It’s a major player in core function.  It’s the muscle targeted in side planks.

See how it attaches to the top of your hip and your spine?  If it pulls tightly on your pelvis, it can pull your hip bone up and unlevel your pelvis.

That unlevel pelvis creates a chain reaction of misalignment up and down the body in order to compensate.

The side of the hiked hip will result in a shorter leg.  The opposite shoulder will raise up.  And the head will have to adjust.

So your posture ends up looking like this:

The head does not like to compromise, though, due to innate biology.


The Righting Reflex

When you’re a baby, your brain develops reflexes very early on to hold your head steady.  These postural reflexes ensure the body stays upright and aligned.

The Righting Reflex is a subconscious way the brain keeps your head sitting on top of your body with eyes facing forward.

So if your pelvis and/or shoulders are out of position, the head will always correct itself.  Our bodies do amazing things to keep us moving…..even at the expense of developing muscular imbalances.



So if the muscles surrounding your neck have to constantly adjust to keep your head upright, they can feel tight and sore from overworking.  That could lead to a headache.

Persistent tension in your neck and shoulders may be the result of a super tight QL throwing your posture out of whack.  In this case, a professional massage and/or side bend stretch may help to relax that QL.

And chances are good that the QL on the opposite side will need to be strengthened.  Bringing both QLs back into muscular harmony may help relieve headaches and improve posture.

(There are many scenarios for neck tension, so check out these two other blog posts, Why Your Neck Tension Won’t Go Away Pt. 1 and Part 2.)

Massage your neck all you want to help with headaches, but the root cause may be in your core.