Massage that Tension Headache!

Read Tension Headaches & Rebound Headaches and Make that Tension Headache Go Away for more information.

Do you suffer from regular tension headaches? Do you often wonder if there’s a better solution than medications? Massage therapy may just be the answer you’ve been searching for!

Many people suffer from daily or near-daily headaches, and popping a pain-relieving pill sometimes can make the headache worse!

Chronic sufferers experience more than just a pain in the head! The pain can radiate into your neck and shoulders and disturb your ability to get a good, restorative night’s rest. Constant pain raises stress levels and irritability. As simple as it may sound, a tension headache can interfere with your daily life, decreasing productivity and the overall quality of your life.

Causes of Tension Headaches
There are many things that may cause this pain. The most obvious being stress and poor posture. Do you sit at your desk with your shoulders slumped and your head jutting forward? Do you tense your shoulders up around your ears when the boss piles on the workload? Do you grind or clench your teeth?

Are you a weekend warrior, meaning most of your physical activity is on your down time from work? If so, do you warm up? Cool down? Do you do too much too fast? Do you play till you drop with fatigue?

And what about sleep? Do you sleep well? Do you get enough sleep? Do you pile the pillows under your head, causing your neck to rest in an abnormal position with your chin into your chest? Do you sleep on your belly?

As strange as it may seem, any these things can cause or aggravate the pain of the tension headache. Taking steps to eliminate or reduce these poor habits and muscular imbalances can go a long way in your fight against chronic tension headaches.

Rid Yourself of the Pain!
Tension headaches can be frustrating – and debilitating! And taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol can be effective in relieving pain. But taken regularly, these medications can cause an increase in headaches in the form of a rebound headache, which is often worse than the original headache.

The trick is to evaluate the reasons behind the headache and change the poor habits to decrease mental and physical stress. Massage is an excellent way to combat both forms of stress!

Massage can relax affected muscles by decreasing spasms and increasing range of motion. A well-trained massage therapist can assess the affected muscles just by your input and through touch.

For example, if your pain is located above the eye, around the ear and down the side of the neck like a question mark, your upper trapezius muscle may be the culprit. Your upper traps run from the base of your skull to your clavicle or collarbone. It is responsible for drawing your head back and to the side.

And if you experience pain around the eye, in your ear and across you forehead, it can be your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, which in turn can affect your scalene muscles. Your SCM is the cord-like muscle on the side of your neck running from the base of your skull laterally to your collarbone. It rotates and depresses your head. Your scalenes are deep muscles on the side of the neck from your neck vertebra (the bones of your spinal column) to the first or second rib. This muscle flexes your neck.

The use of massage therapy can relax and stretch muscles to relieve pain and stress. Massage can break the pain cycle plus eliminate the original source of pain. It can relieve tight muscles, improve range of motion and alter pain sensations – even stop the nerves that register pain from firing. It can also increase circulation, since muscle tightness or tension often leads to ischemia or reduced local circulation.

Massage can also reduce the mental aspects of stress, such as anxiety, anger, confusion and depression by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. It can increase your alertness and concentration, thus improving your productivity.

In short, massage has a positive effect psychologically (mentally) and physiologically (body functions), all of which can affect pain and its perception. Stress and continued pain can exacerbate other medical conditions. The key is to identify the causes and take positive steps to correct them. Massage is a non-invasive way to get a gripe on the things getting in the way of a happy, pain-free life.

Occasionally, a headache can be a sign something is wrong. You should always consult with your physician before attempting any treatments, including over-the-counter medications and massage.

If a new headache appears, especially after the age of 50, it may be a sign of an underlying disease and should be evaluated promptly. If the headache comes with other symptoms, such as drowsiness, confusion, weakness, loss of muscle coordination, fever, nausea/vomiting, visual disturbances or muscle rigidity (like a stiff neck), contact your physician immediately. Also contact your medical practitioner if the pain steadily worsens over time or with exertion – or is accompanied with high blood pressure.

During a massage treatment while suffering with a tension headache, avoid vigorous or deep pressure techniques as these may result in kick-back pain. Kick-back pain is a recurrence of symptoms a few hours or days after treatment. This can occur when these more aggressive techniques are applied too quickly or deeply without proper follow up such as slow release, after-technique stretching and heat application to relieve over-work pain.

To avoid kick-back pain, make sure you visit a well-trained, qualified massage therapist, whether licensed or certified. Do not let your loved one try to work out the muscles, especially if you are experiencing tension headache pain.

Don’t try to be a hero – if a certain technique is causing increased pain – speak up! Massage during a tension headache should be relaxing. There is time to really work those muscles once the pain in your head is under control!

So, why not try a massage? Who knows, with the right treatment, that nagging head pain may just become an unpleasant memory!

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