Headaches are something that we have all experienced at one point in our lives. Whether it’s a migraine, a sinus headache or muscular tension from your neck into your head, they are things we just want to go away.
There are many different types of headache, but there are so many different causes and symptoms. The usual symptoms of a headache are tension in the base of the skull that can radiate pain up to the top of the head, into the temples and behind the eyes. Often headache symptoms are stubborn and the areas of pain last from a couple of hours to days at a time.
Self treatment is a fantastic way to alleviate headache symptoms allowing you to be able get on with your day. Before I treat a client I make sure I get a detailed history and try and determine what has led to that person’s headache. Often migraines are neurological disorders that are set off by certain stimuli. Regular tension headaches are usually due to muscular imbalances, postural dysfunction and inflammation of the muscles.
Massage is great way to alleviate acute headache tension and pain. In Myotherapy our goal is to release tension without aggravating that person’s symptom. I always start with light massage through the neck and this can be easily done to yourself by cupping your hand around your neck and lightly squeezing the muscles into your hand.
The sub occipital muscles at the base of your skull can be quite sensitive during migraines and tension headaches. With both hands, use your index finger or thumb lightly press into the base of the skull. The muscle is thin and small so it may feel like you’re just pressing into bone.
The temporalis muscle is located between the eye and the ear and can be quite a delicate area to touch during a headache. Using your index and middle finger massage slowly and lightly in a circular motion.
The eyebrow is another area that can be very sensitive but when massaged can ease symptoms rapidly. Using your thumb and index finger, lightly pinch the start of your eyebrow closest to your nose and work your way across the brow line.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) dysfunction in the jaw is another common contributor to headaches. When the jaw is tight and painful, massage of the area can release tension up to your temples and into the neck. Find the cheek bone move a couple of centimeters down and lightly massage in a circular motion with your index and middle fingers.
The use of ice and heat can also be very beneficial in alleviating headache symptoms and relaxing the muscles. A heat pack on the back of the neck for 10-15 minutes can relax the muscles of the neck and shoulders and promote blood flow and circulation. Ice can also be beneficial in reducing inflammation of the area. Ice should only be used up to 5 minutes at a time on the back of the neck.
Stretching is another useful tool to reduce muscular tension and headache symptoms. Shoulder stretches in a door way can be used to release pressure off the shoulders and allow the muscles in the back to function correctly and efficiently. Also, seated neck stretches that are held for 30-60 secs each side can also help reduce the stress of a headache.
by Rob Parry – Elite Myotherapist