How Massage Can Eliminate Headaches
written by Charlotte Margry
Melbourne Muscular Therapies – Richmond Clinic – Headache Massage Specialists – Melbourne | Richmond
Where are my headaches coming from?
When clients come into the clinic with head, neck and/or shoulder pain one of the first questions we ask is, “Do you get frequently get headaches?”
The frequency, location and intensity of these symptoms provide us with a huge amount of information. It allows us to categorise your headaches and treat accordingly.
Three main types of headache
In today’s world, headaches are a common phenomenon, but contrary to popular opinion, it is not normal. There are certain lifestyle factors such as poor diet, dehydration and lack of sleep that cause headaches – it is important to stay in tune to what your body needs, instead of masking these symptoms with a couple of Panadols.
Once we eliminate these lifestyle factors, there are three common types of headaches. Here is a brief description of each and how to manage them:
1. Cervicogenic – this can simply be called a POSTURAL HEADACHE
This is the most common type of headache we see and treat in our clinic!
Causes – These headaches can be caused by poor posture, arthritis of the neck, disc degeneration, whiplash or overactive muscles in this region of the body.
Symptoms – Pain starts at the base of the skull and can spread up the head to the forehead or temples or behind the eye, typically on one side of the head. may also be associated pain in the neck or shoulders. There may be trouble with head movements, such as looking over the shoulders.
Treatment: see the following section
Other common types of headache include:
2. Tension-Type Headaches – the primary trigger is STRESS
This is second most common type of headache seen in our clinic.
Symptoms – Both sides of the head will be affected, it will feel tight and pressing, like a tight band around your head. There may also be a sensitivity to light or sound. It can last from 30 mins to several days.
Treatment: I’m sorry to say that the best treatment is stress management. We can treat the muscles that have tightened in association with stress, however long-term strategies such as relaxation techniques and a regular exercise routine are the only way to eliminate these headaches.
3. Migraines – can be with or without aura
Without aura – They are typically throbbing, severe, are on one side (can alternate), can be associated with nausea, vomiting and a light sensitivity. They can last ~4-72 hours.
With aura – may also have some visual disturbances. These migraines can last up to 60 minutes.
Treatment: No manual therapy will treat the source of these headaches, we can, however, treat the associated muscle tightness and spasm once the episode has passed. There is a genetic component to this headache and can be treated by appropriate medication from your GP.
I suffer from postural headaches… How do I stop them?
Remedial & Deep Tissue Massage at Melbourne Muscular Therapies Richmond!
It is often difficult to correct your posture if you have overactive muscles to fight against. In previous blog posts we have spoken about upper crossed syndrome; we are going to re-iterate some of that information because it is one of the most common dysfunctions today. Whether you are sitting at a desk for eight hours a day or are regularly checking your phone, you will be bent over looking at a screen. When you sustain this posture for hours each day, almost every day your muscles tighten to adapt and support you in this position.
It is important to release these overactive muscles (pectorals, upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles), so that the lengthened and weakened muscles have the opportunity to activate and draw your head and neck into a more neutral, pain-free position.
The primary concern is to address the defective posture. Once we have release the tight muscles, we can focus on posture at the desk, on the phone and when standing. It is important to retrain posture in a functional manner, so that they can be easily applied to your daily activities.
The key points for correct posture and maintaining a neutral spine are:
– Standing with the weight on your heels
– Gluteal activation
– Activation of your deep abdominals, your transversus abdominis
– Diaphragmatic breathing to expand your ribcage and extend your upper back
– Drawing your shoulder blades back to activate your posterior chain muscles
– Retracting your chin for correct head and neck alignment
Here are a few mistakes people make:
– Keeping their weight on their toes
– Over-arching their mid and upper back
– Pointing their chin up or tilting it too low and into their chest
We now need to re-activate those sleepy, poorly recruited muscles, such as your transversus abdominis and lower trapezius muscles, so that they are able to maintain your posture when you’re at the desk. Our exercises combine retraining of the nervous system and re-activating the posterior chain, whilst keeping the exercises functional.
The majority of the effort goes into correcting the problem. Once it’s fixed, it takes less effort than you think to maintain the benefits and prevent any pain from returning.