Millions of people are affected by tension headaches. The strain of always trying to cope with headache pain can significantly affect the quality of your home and work life.
Massage is highly effective in treating chronic headaches by relieving muscle tension, promoting healing of injuries and reducing stress.
Different forms of headaches
Frequently headaches are caused by muscle tension. The pain level experienced from this headache is varied. You may sometimes feel a band like pressure around your head. This type of headache is caused by tight muscles and/or trigger points (irritable spots that refer pain elsewhere) which develops in the neck, head and shoulders. Other causes of tension headaches include: postural problems, mental and physical stress and disturbed sleep patterns.
If you suffer from migraines you will experience intense, one-sided pain, which can spread to the face, jaw and neck. The duration of a migraine can vary from several hours to several days. Sufferers experience nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue and sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraines can be set off by numerous factors including: stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, food allergies, missing a meal, certain medications, bright lights and loud noises.
Headaches induced by neck injury
If you suffer from a muscle or ligament injury in the neck, it is quite likely that this can result in headaches. A sudden trauma such as whiplash or repetitive injuries (such as working at a computer all day) can cause neck injuries. The injured areas are then subject to an accumulation of muscle tension and scar tissue which restricts movement, reduces blood flow and causes trigger points, which then results in head and neck pain.
Other forms of headache:
- Cluster headaches: sufferer will experience these in a close series and they then fade for months, before returning again.
- Rebound headaches: these are result of too many toxins in the body which build up from the frequent use of prescription or over-the-counter pain medications.
- Post-traumatic headaches: caused by a head injury. Sometimes these occur immediately after the injury or sometimes well afterwards.
- Other causes of headaches include: Sinusitis, allergies, TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), high blood pressure, tumors, and strokes.
If you suffer from chronic or severe headaches it is essential to get medical advice. A sudden severe headache can indicate something more serious.
Benefits of massage for headache sufferers
Massage is hugely beneficial in treating all forms of headaches. With a head and neck massage your therapist will ease your headache by releasing tight and shortened muscles, trigger points, and fascia (tissue surrounding muscles). This will improve your circulation, helping to remove waste products and bringing back in oxygen and healing nutrients.
Massage is extremely effective in preventing migraines. It helps to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines by decreasing both physical and mental stress.
If you are suffering from a headache caused by an injury, massage will break down the tension and scar tissue in the muscles and ligaments of the neck and encourage healing.
If you are affected by poor posture, resulting in headaches, your therapist will make you aware of tension patterns which affect your posture so you can work on improving it.
Stress and Pain Relief
Stress and tension play a huge role in causing and intensifying any form of headache. Massage is extremely relaxing and can be very effective in reducing stress and tension. During a massage you zone in on the enjoyable relaxing sensation and the continuous feeling of pain fades. You will find your mind relaxing as your body does. Any anxiety contributing to your headaches will dissolve. You will experience this relaxation throughout your whole body: the nervous system calms, your breathing slows and your feeling of well-being is returned.
Other support for Ongoing Care
Your therapist will be able to recommend other steps that can be taken to improve your headaches. This could include yoga or Pilates to reduce muscle tension and improve posture and balance in your body.
A GP, allergist or a nutritionist can also be of help if your headache has a chemical, dietary or hormonal influence.