As a remedial massage therapist, I get a lot of people coming to me with migraines or headaches; for a few, massage is a ‘last resort’ for a state that has lasted several days or persists despite treatment with medication. Most individuals are amazed by how quickly and efficiently deep tissue massage can deal with the underlying causes of headaches and migraines, and thus alleviate painful symptoms. This report explains some of the various techniques massage can fix migraines and headaches.
What’s a Headache/migraine?
Most headaches are tension headaches – pressure or tension in the vicinity of the head. These kinds of headaches are very common, and most people will experience them throughout their lifetime.
Migraines on the other hand, are mild to severe headaches that are accompanied by nausea and may involve sensitivity to sound or light. The pain is usually on one side of their head, throbbing and extreme.
What causes Tension Headaches?
As the name implies, the principal cause is tension in the muscles of the neck and head. This muscle tension can be caused by:
- tension in neck muscles
- extended periods of reading, typing or concentration (eye pressure )
- bad posture
- backbone and neck injuries
- high blood pressure
- physical or psychological stress.
HOW DOES MASSAGE HELP?
Massage can help to reduce muscular tension, tension and pain from tension headaches. More specifically, the effects of massage fall into three broad areas:
Physical (Physiologic) Effects of Massage
Massage employs different hand techniques to cause muscles to relax.
- Neck Muscles are stretched to discharge the physical strain, causing them to relax.
- Muscle Fibres that have fused are divided to allow fresh oxygen-rich blood to get to the muscles.
- Metabolic Waste like lactic acid is taken from muscle develop and dispersed.
- Nerves which are captured in the muscle are freed, so that they stop causing referred pain.
Neurochemical Effects of Massage
The feeling of calm and comfort you get after a massage is due mostly to the discharge and rebalancing of chemicals on your body:
- Dopamine, oxycontin and serotonin levels are increased, creating pleasant feelings and decreased cravings.
- Cortisol levels are reduced, which lowers the overall sense of ‘stress’.
Other Effects of Massage
There are a variety of other massage effects which help decrease headache symptoms. It calms your nervous system, slows down your heart rate and increases circulation. In a nutshell, it calms you down.
What Massage do I need?
If you want to have the best chance of resolving the problem, make sure you pick a therapeutic massage therapist who can correctly assess the issue. Depending on what is causing the tension, the massage could involve unique techniques and stretches.
- Deep Tissue Massage – Different hand techniques warm up the superficial muscle layers and slowly work the deeper muscles. It’s like peeling an oignon till you get to the deeper layers.
- Trigger Points / Myofascial Release – Areas of the muscle which are holding metabolic waste (like lactic acid) are targeted to discharge this back in your system. It’s working on the places that feel like ‘knots’.
How will I will feel afte the massage?
Generally, you should feel that the symptoms decrease after one massage therapy. If there was significant muscle strain before the massage, the muscles may feel a little tender and you might feel dehydrated because of the waste moving into your system. Otherwise, you should be feeling rested.
After a massage treatment it is important to drink additional water, and finish any stretches that you’re given. It’s fantastic to complete neck stretches and alter how you perform tasks to reduce aggravating the problem.
What if Headaches persist after treatment?
If your headache comes back or persists after treatment, it might be indicative of a more severe issue. In cases like this, it would be important to have it checked out by a doctor just to be certain.