Massage and Headaches

Massage can be a great tool for relieving pain caused by headaches and migraines and has been used as a treatment for this for decades. There are various types of headaches and migraines but some are more common than others. They can be very debilitating and frustratingly are not well funded in the UK so research is very limited in this area.

One of the more common type of headache are tension headaches which are caused by tense muscles in the neck and shoulders causing a dull, aching pain being felt in the neck and at the base of the skull and sometimes a pulling sensation at the back of skull can be felt.

Other types of headache include cluster headache. This has been described as the most pain a human can endure, even worse than giving birth or breaking bones. A sharp pain can be felt in one eye and can happen in groups for days or even weeks.


Migraines are chronic headaches that are extremely painful lasting for days or weeks. They are very wide ranging meaning pain can be felt as a throbbing or squeezing on one side of the head, change from one side to the other or be felt on both sides of the head and in the eyes/ eyebrows. As well as the pain nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light sound and smell, visual disturbances and loss of coordination can be experienced. Often migraine sufferers will find solace in a dark, quiet room to reduce the pain.Sinus headaches are caused by an inflammation of the sinuses which can be felt as a deep throbbing pain to the face and head, the pain can increase when leaning forward and with damp or humid weather.

A lot of headaches and migraines are accompanied by neck and shoulder pain so massage is an ideal treatment to relax these areas. As well as relaxing muscles massage will relieve muscle spasm, help relax

the individual and increase blood and oxygen flow which is more beneficial to vascular and tension headaches. Indian head massage is an obvious form of massage that will do this as long as the headache isn’t

too severe so palpi

tation of the head will increase the pain. Using the pressure points on the face can help take away any pressure or swelling being felt here which is great for sinus headaches.

Some self massage can be carried out to help ease some of the tension. You can do this by making circular motions along the neck muscles or at the base of the skull using fingers, thumbs or knuckles. It is also beneficial to stretch the muscles off the neck to help reduce the tension within the muscles and fascia and to increase blood flow. Tilting the ear to the shoulders, dropping the chin to the chest and raising the head towards the ceiling are all simple stretches that can be carried out at home or at work. It is best to take your time with these, do each for up to 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds between each stretch.Plenty of trigger points will be found in the neck and shoulders that may send radiating pain up to the occipital area or to the eyebrow on the same or opposite side. Neuromuscular or friction techniques can help by pressing on the painful point and holding until the pain has lessened or has dispersed. Plenty of cross fibre massage and muscle lengthening can be great at increasing the oxygen and blood flow and ease pressure being felt at the back and side of the head.Massage can be carried out on those suffering with headaches or migraines at any point but depending on the severity it may be best to wait until the pain has lessened. If you have a severe form of migraine or headache it would be best to ask your doctor if it is beneficial or not to have massage treatment.

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