Headaches are such a pain and most of us will experience a headache from time to time, however what is shocking is that around 4% of people the world over suffer from chronic daily headaches! They are by far one of the most debilitating of conditions to suffer from, especially if you experience them regularly.
Tension headaches feel like a dull or heavy band of pain, usually on both sides of the head. They often occur sporadically, lasting from several hours up to a few days at a time. There is generally no “throbbing” and they’re not associated with nausea, light sensitivity or sound sensitivity as with migraine type headaches.
Strangely for such a common condition, there is little agreement about exactly how the pain is produced, however likely causes are poor posture, particularly those who are at their desks for long periods each day for work, eye weaknesses, and even wearing glasses, straining with your eyes in dull lit areas, staring at a computer screen for too long and so on.
However, the main culprits are a group of cervical muscles referred to as the suboccipitals. These muscles work overtime to keep your head stabilized on top of your spine which is especially challenging because your head may weigh as much as a 10 pin bowling ball!
These muscles are not only stabilizers balancing your head they also initiate fine motor movements. All this becomes a bit too much when these muscles are under excess strain due to poor posture or stress, whether at work, during sleep or hanging about the house.
The suboccipital muscles are balanced by the jaw muscles, which is often an overlooked area that causes headaches, as the neck and jaw muscles including the Sternocleidomastoid – “function together and dysfunction together.”
Active trigger points and muscle pain in these two groups are also likely triggers for migraines and cluster headaches. Here is a great article which explains the different kinds of headaches for further understanding.
A recently published article by the Association of Massage Therapists reports that studies conducted by a team of researchers in Colorado, have further validated the effectiveness of bodywork therapies, such as Massage Therapy for the treatment of tension headaches.
The researchers concluded that remedial massage therapy is an effective non-pharmacological treatment, as headache frequency and average duration of headaches was reduced within 1 – 2 sessions and in many cases relieved ongoing chronic conditions.
Our Myotherapist and Remedial Massage therapists are specifically trained to assess and treat soft tissue dysfunctions that may contribute to your tension headaches.
We can assist you with a range of techniques aimed at reducing hypertonicity, and relieving active trigger points within the trapezius, jaw and suboccipital muscle regions, including a relaxing head massage.
Massaging in this area is loved by everyone and not only is it blissful it comes with great benefits too.
Yours in health…
It is a good idea to gently stretch your neck each morning when you are enjoying a warm shower. Just allow your head to drop forward gently guiding your chin to your chest. Then side to side and finish with a few neck rolls right around in both directions. The heat will help increase blood flow and excite the muscles.
Before you reach for the paracetamol, here are a few tips to help ease tension headaches on the go.
- Firstly, grip your hand firmly at the point where the webbing stretches between the thumb and index finger, using the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand and squeeze deeply for about 10 seconds.
This is a very effective acupressure point for treating headaches, and you can do it where ever you are as soon as you feel a headache coming on.
If you have a persistent ache and can take the time, go through this little procedure before you rush on with your day.
- Start by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones close to your ears, and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure and rub the temples.
- Now, using very firm pressure and slight circular motions gradually move your fingers up along your hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, massaging your entire forehead and scalp.
- Sitting up straight, clasp your entire head with both hands and gently push your thumbs up under the base of the skull and hold for 8 seconds, and finish with general kneading of the area at the back of the head.
(It is advised to exert extra caution when massaging this delicate area of the body due to the multitude and complexity of nerve structures and arteries in the neck.)
- Using your thumbs again, carefully press up onto both optical nerve points which are located just below the eyebrows on the ridge of the cranium, again for 8 seconds.