Most adults have suffered from a headache at least once in their lifetime.  They can make you irritable, tired, and sensitive to sound and light.  Migraine headaches on the other hand, can be very painful and last for days therefore medication is usually prescribed for treatment.  I had a friend who is a long time sufferer of migraines.  She was having a migraine episode at home with her kids. They were running around screaming and just being “kids.”  Her migraine had gotten so bad she ran into the dark bathroom, locked the door, and laid her head down on the cold floor. She knew she had a couple of minutes of peace before they found her.  If you have ever What are the differences between tension headaches and vascular (migraine) headaches?

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. The role of stress and mental or emotional conflict triggers pain and contracts  muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw. Tension headaches may be caused by muscle tension, temporal mandibular joint disorders, dehydration, missed meals, intense work, depression, anxiety, or poor sleep. The pain is usually mild to moderate and last just a couple of hours.

Vascular headaches are usually described as “pounding” or “throbbing.”  They occur when the blood vessels that supply the brain and the muscles in the head swell and constrict. The pain can intensify with physical activity and typically lasts 4 to 72 hours.  Migraines, cluster headaches, and headaches that result in high blood pressure are all examples of vascular headaches. Migraines can be a little harder in identifying the trigger. Seeing your doctor to figure out what is triggering your

How can massage therapy help?

Massage is a great way to manage stress and relieve tension. It can help relieve muscle spasms and improve blood flow and circulation. When muscle tension eases, there is less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that supply them oxygen-rich blood.  Massage is also thought to relieve pain by releasing the chemical serotonin.  Serotonin and migraines are believed to be related.  Massage may also block pain signals sent to the brain, which can help prevent migraines.

Types of massage that can help.

  • Suboccipital Release technique:  The suboccipital muscles are located at the base of the neck. The function of these muscles is not a small task. They are responsible for holding your head up which can weigh 8 to 10 lbs and is resting on a foundation only about one third as wide. The suboccipitals can be tender trigger points and can be responsible for headaches. When pressure is applied it can be felt in the back of the head and into the eyes. Suboccipital release is a techinique used to help alleviate the tension and give those muscles the relief they need to prevent headaches.
  • Neuromuscular Therapy ( Trigger point): Targets hyper-irritable, tender tissue areas that can refer pain to other parts of the body.
  • Deep Tissue: Focuses on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia which is beneficial in releasing  chronic muscle tension.
  • Reflexology: There are pressure points on the hands and feet that can be massaged for relief of headache pain.

Not all types of massage are suitable for migraine sufferers.  Deep tissue massage may actually worsen the migraine if the pain has already started. Gentle massage around the temples and eyes will be more beneficial if you're in the middle of a migraine.

In conclusion, getting regular, ongoing massage can help to prevent headaches and migraines by helping to reduce overall stress and muscle tension and helps maintain emotional balance.