Saturday, July 7, 2012

Massage for Headache/Migraine Relief

Therapeutic massage is a highly effective tool 
for reducing and preventing headaches. 

Headache Causes
Trigger Points are often the hidden and unsuspected cause of headaches and migraines. Trigger Points can be identified as that dull, chronic ache or “knot” in a specific area, usually with one spot in particular being especially tender, and are a result of sustained muscle contraction. Sometimes the pain can be accompanied by limited range of motion (e.g., you canʼt look over your shoulder without the pain intensifying).
Headaches and migraines surface when we overexert ourselves, are mentally or emotionally stressed, consume too much sugar, or when we are dehydrated or hungover. We can also get them during chemical withdrawal, as an allergic reaction or symptom of hormonal changes, after a physical trauma such as whiplash, or as a result of poor posture or repetitive activity. Regardless of how the headache gets activated, Trigger Points are sure to be involved and most likely the underlying cause of your pain.

How Massage Can Help
Massage alleviates headaches by releasing Trigger Points, tight muscles, and other soft tissue in the head, neck, and shoulders. When muscles relax and become more pliable, pressure lessens on nerves and blood vessels, thereby improving circulation and flushing away irritating waste products. Oxygen and nutrients are restored to the area and the headache quickly dissipates.
If your headache is due to injury of some nature, massage can promote healing and reduce scar tissue in the muscles and ligaments of the affected areas. If poor posture or repetitive activity (e.g., computer work) are contributing to your headache, massage can relax overworked muscle groups. As the body relaxes, inevitably so too does the mind, reducing anxiety that may be part of your headache pattern as well.

How much massage do I need?
My clients frequently report a vast reduction or complete elimination of their pain after just one hour of massage. A single massage can often provide much needed short-term relief, easing muscle tension and anxiety, and can be effective as a preventative measure if you feel a headache is coming on.
For relief from chronic headaches, some clients may consider scheduling sessions on a regular basis, such as monthly or weekly. Regular massage can help reduce accumulated physical and mental stress and, over time, dramatically reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine episodes.

What else can I do for my chronic headaches/migraines?
In addition to massage therapy, identifying your stressors is a big first step toward eliminating the chronic headache.  If you discover that your migraine is more likely to occur after you eat a lot of sweets, for instance, you can work on modifying your diet accordingly.  Drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet can help keep your system in balance.  Consult your physician, allergist, or licensed nutritionist for assistance in managing reactions to food and other substances.

Get your work station evaluated by an ergonomics expert.  Become conscious of your posture while you work.  Periodically change up your routine by taking frequent breaks throughout the day away from your desk or work activity to stretch and move your muscles.

Stress counseling may help you learn to relax and to express your feelings which can prevent stress from mounting into a full-blown headache.

And, of course, massage therapy may quickly become your best friend when coping with the stress of chronic headaches, mitigating the intensity and frequency of migraines, and clearing the path for a more enjoyable life.

Suzanna Young, LMT is a licensed and State-certified massage therapist; member of ABMP; 
and owner of Take 5 Bodywork, tranquilly located on the Santa Barbara Riviera near the Mission, 
and home of Santa Barbara’s “Most Comfortable Table!”

For more information on Take 5 Bodywork, please visit


  1. Most people rely on pain drugs, without a proper or untrustworthy doctors, that causes severeness in bringing other side effects, proper assurance by close friends is the best way to find a good doctor.

    Migraine treatment