After a long stressful day there are few things worse than a painful headache. For some, headaches can be absolutely debilitating and for those suffering from migraines, they can last hours to days. According to the World Health Organization, in developed countries, tension-type headache affects over one third of men and over one half of women. Migraines are also very common affecting at least 1 adult in every 7 in the world. Using Massage for headache treatment can be an incredible support to help bring relief from that pain.
Tension headaches have a few different potential causes and are much better understood than Migraines. Some common causes of tension headaches include:
- Poor Posture
- Poor Sleep Quality
- Jaw or dental problems
- Muscles strain in the head, neck or shoulders
The cause of Migraine Headaches are not as well understood although there seems to be a genetic factor and those suffering from epilepsy and depression can be more susceptible. There are some known triggers for those who suffer from migraines and they include:
- Hormonal Changes in Women
- Certain foods and additives
- Sensory stimuli; ie. bright lights, strong odors, loud sounds
- Physical exertion
- Change in Sleep Patterns
- Environmental factors
Fortunately, for both migraine and tension headache sufferers massage can bring relief and support the healing and treatment of these conditions. For those suffering from tension headaches and migraines alike, massage can activate the parasympathetic response. When the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is activated the heart rate slows, breathing calms, and held tension is released. Circulation is improved allowing for hormones, lymph and blood to travel where it is needed more effectively. While in a parasympathetic state bodies are more able to heal themselves and massage is a great way to get to facilitate that healing. Relaxation encourages recovery.
Tension headache sufferers can certainly receive relief from a simple swedish (relaxation) massage and sometimes it takes more in-depth specific work with trigger points or stretches. There are a surprising number of muscles that can be responsible or or a contributing factor of headaches. Muscles in the head and neck may seem like the most logical place to receive bodywork when you have a headache and it can be a great place to start but, the truth is, some of the muscles in the upper and all the way down to the lower back can contribute to frequent tension headaches. When these muscles are overused, or poor posture catches up, tension headaches can arise.
Deep Tissue or Neuromuscular therapy are typically the best option for those who deal with frequent tension headaches. These modalities allow for the greatest chance at getting to the root cause of the issue and thus increasing the chances of long term relief. This work can sometimes feel more painful in the moment but really pinpointing the specific trigger points and working on the individual muscles involved in the headache has been shown to decrease the frequency and intensity of tension headaches.
If you are looking for headache treatment you can give me a call at (620)228-0449 to book an appointment or click here to check out my website.
**Not all headaches can or should be treated with massage so it is important that you talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to be sure there’s no underlying condition or injury that would make massage a contraindication.**