Massage for Headache Pain

Published on 09/26/12

A friend of mine recently asked me if massage can make a head-ache go away. I, of course, said, “Yes!”

According to Mary Beth Braun, President of the American Massage Therapy Association, “Americans are looking to massage for much more than relaxation. … Massage can be effective for a variety of conditions including arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, circulatory problems and recovery from sports injury.” Wow that about covers it all doesn’t it? But, it’s true!

So I began researching the effects of massage on headache pain. One thing I learned from my research is that 60% of Americans suffer from chronic headaches. According to the Mayo Clinic chronic headache is defined as headache pain for 15 days or more a month for 3 months that is not attributable to another cause (I am thinking they are referring to another disease or condition that could cause headaches). Typically headaches are more prominent during times of high stress and periods resulting in lack of adequate sleep. Whichever the precipitating cause may be, massage can and will be helpful. Massage can be helpful both during the headache and on a regular basis as a preventative treatment strategy.

As a preventative tool, massage can help the body maintain an optimum level of relaxation and stress relief. Regularly scheduled massages can treat chronic tension in shoulders, neck and upper back that could result in these nasty headaches. A study reported in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that massage therapy is effective in reducing the number of tension headaches per week in chronic tension headache sufferers.

During a headache you might find a little self-massage helpful. Here are some techinques that might be helpful: Start by using your thumbs on your cheekbones next to your ears, use your fingertips to gently apply pressure and rub your temples (this is the soft spot between your ears and the corner of your eye). Then, using firm pressure and tiny circular motions gradually move your fingers along the hairline toward the front of your forehead. Continue with whatever pressure feels good to you and massage the forehead and scalp area. These massage techniques may be helpful in a pinch. Just remember to be kind to yourself in the amount of pressure that you use and take your time. Remember to breathe in and out and relax.

If you find that you are in the chronic headache category, you may benefit from regularly scheduled massage to treat chronic tension in neck, upper back, shoulders, and chest muscles. That’s where my services come in, so don’t suffer, call me and make your appointment! You’ll be glad you did!