Relieving Headaches With Massage

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Recently I was feeling out of sorts and had a nagging tension headache for several days straight. I’m one who would not conveniently resort to pain killers but prefer to try out natural remedies. So I enlisted the help of my youngest daughter who is thirteen years old to give me a massage on my shoulders, neck, and head. You wouldn’t believe it but the pain on my head and neck was instantly relieved after the 30-minute soothing massage!

Massage can be a very beneficial non-invasive form of treatment for headaches.  A massage on the shoulders, neck, and temples can loosen up tension in these areas and release muscle knots to eliminate the knotting pain and associated pain.  Massage therapy improves blood flow, helps loosen up your muscles, and relieves pain and stiffness. If you’re feeling tense, sore, or have a throbbing headache, massage therapy by way of pressing, kneading and rubbing your skin and underlying muscles may help you feel better.

Self-massage is a simple, convenient way to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy. You can either get someone to do the massage for you or DIY, in the comfort of your own home.   During a self-massage, you use your hands to manipulate your own muscles. This involves kneading the skin and applying pressure in certain spots.

Massage Therapy to Ease Headaches and Tension

Start by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones close to your ears, and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure and rub the temples (the soft spot between the corner of your eye and your ear).

Using very firm pressure and a tiny circular motion, gradually move your fingers up along your hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, massaging your entire forehead and scalp as you inch along.

Next, get someone to massage your shoulders by kneading them.

Massage for 15 minutes on the temples and forehead followed by 15 minutes on the shoulders.

You can use a few drops of peppermint essential oil for the massage. Peppermint oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils to treat headaches. It contains menthol, which can help relax muscles, ease pain, and nix nausea.

When applied topically to the forehead and temple areas, peppermint essential oil may help reduce the pain related to migraines and tension.

Backed By Researches

In Spain, researchers at the University of Granada — in collaboration with the Clinical Hospital San Cecilio and the University Rey Juan Carlos have shown that the psychological and physiological state of patients with tension headache improved within 24 hours after receiving a 30-minute massage.

A study was carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine involving chronic tension headache sufferers.  These patients received structured massage therapy treatment directed toward neck and shoulder muscles. Headache frequency, duration, and intensity were recorded and compared with baseline measures. The study concluded that massage therapy appears to be an effective nonpharmacological treatment for alleviating chronic tension headaches. 

Massage Stimulates The Production of Happy Hormones

A massage stimulates the release of happy hormones to help reduce stress, pain and increase relaxation.  Increased endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine hormones is a common benefit gained through massage. These happy hormones circulate around the body and trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

Endorphins also act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. That’s the reason why you often snooze off during a massage session.  However, unlike morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

In times when you can’t get to a massage therapist, you can still reap many of the benefits of this age-old healing practice — with your own hands or get one of your loved ones to do it for you. It feels more soothing if you can get someone to massage you while you close your eyes, relax and do nothing.  It’s pretty simple and my 13-year old daughter who was never taught how to massage only massaged me casually with both her hands.  What I felt after the 30-minute massage session was nothing short of miraculous as the headache magically disappeared.

Image credit – Pexels

The next time you or your loved one gets a tension headache or migraine attack, try massage therapy.  You can also try this at night to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

The Bottom Line

As massage is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical way to treat headaches, it’s very safe. Just remember it’s a complementary treatment. You should seek out your doctor to rule out any underlying medical problem if you have recurring or very intense headaches that don’t seem to go away.


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Health Freak Mommy
Author: Health Freak Mommy

A health freak mom to 3 teenage girls. Blogger since April 2007.