Headaches are one of the most common medical conditions in the world (read more here). While there are many different types of headaches, the most common ones are tension headaches and migraines.
A tension headache usually feels like a steady discomfort or aching in the head – the pain can be intense, but not debilitating. Many people experience headaches due to stress or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. These muscles pull on the vertebrae in the neck, which can cause a headache.
A migraine is a severe, throbbing headache that can also involve sensitivity to light and sound. In addition, the pain may be only on one side of the head. More severe migraines can sometimes also cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Rather than being caused by muscle tension or stressful situations, migraines can be triggered by strong odors, bright lights, loud noises, lack of sleep, and food allergies.
Massages are effective in relieving headaches
Since headaches are so common, people are constantly trying to find different solutions to alleviate them. Massage has been shown to be very effective in relieving migraines; the results of one of many studies on this topic by the NIH can be seen here.
People who suffer from chronic headaches or migraines often receive massage due to its therapeutic properties. This is one of the many reasons why we LOVE massage; beyond helping you feel great and relax, it can also function as an effective form of pain relief.
Can self-massage help?
Absolutely! We offer a “Self-massage” online class as part of our Corporate Wellness Programs. It is a great way to relieve stress and tension in your head, neck, and shoulders. It is also good for helping to alleviate headaches and migraines. The best part is that the only tool you need is your hands. It can be done anywhere and at any time, as long as you have a few minutes to dedicate to the task.
Locate the specific areas where your head hurts by lightly rubbing the base of your neck, shoulders, jaw, temples, and under the eyelids and eyebrows. Once you have located the pain points, press gently on them; you can also make small circles with your index and middle fingers. Perform these movements for approximately 30 seconds and check in with yourself. You should notice how the discomfort gradually decreases. The massaging should be done slowly and gently, and shouldn’t cause you any additional pain. You may want to use a little bit of unscented oil for smoother gliding strokes.
- Massaging your temples is a great way to relieve pressure and tension in your skull. Use circular movements for about 20 seconds with your fingers on your temples, pausing for 20 seconds, and repeating the process at least three times.
- Make slow, gentle, circular movements with your neck while keeping your shoulders in a neutral position. After each round, gently massage at the base of the skull. This will help release tension in the occiput, where the trapezius (shoulder) muscles insert.
- If scents and sounds are not migraine triggers, try smelling some lavender oil while playing soft music in the background for extra relaxation.
At Healing Hands, our experts can customize your session to focus on helping to alleviate your headache or any other condition you currently have.
If you happen to have a bad headache, now you know some techniques you can do to help. And if they don’t work, book a massage with our professional licensed therapists!