by Jane McClurg 1st June 2017
Do you often get a throbbing pain behind your eyes, or a tight band gripping the back of your head? This is more than likely the most common type of headache: a tension headache.
Although they are not medically dangerous, chronic tension headaches (longer than 3 months) can have a negative impact on your quality of life and work productivity, missing out on doing the things you love is never cool.
You probably feel like you’ve got your “iHunch” going on too and your neck and shoulders feel tight and sore...too many hours hunched over a laptop or tablet.
So what can you do to get rid of these headaches?
Of course I may be biased when I say massage is my number one choice but there is research to back it up too; a small study (let’s be honest as there are never large studies for massage therapy, crazy I know!) published in 2011 concluded “a muscle-specific massage therapy technique used in this study has the potential to be a functional, nonpharmacological intervention for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headache.”
In another study aimed at migraine headaches “the massage therapy group, who received two 30-minute massages per week for five consecutive weeks. The massage therapy subjects reported fewer distress symptoms, less pain, more headache free days, fewer sleep disturbances and they showed an increase in serotonin levels.
So now the scientist in you has been satisfied what would you expect in a Balance Massage therapy session?
- Health history, including any past injuries especially whiplash taken in to consideration and any medications
- Postural assessment, we look at how your head sits on your neck and shoulders...do you have forward head posture (FHP)?
- Range of motion (ROM) how far can you turn your head? Is there pain?
- During the massage we would usually target the shoulder girdle muscles, the deeper thoracic/neck muscles and of course the posterior and anterior neck muscles. As well as jaw and scalp.
- Eliminating trigger points is a main focus as these little suckers can be the source of your achy headache.
- A 45 minute session is usually a good length of time for a first visit and depending on your individual needs; follow up appointments of 30 minutes and usually 3 to 4 sessions a week apart is the best treatment plan to create lasting change and decrease the frequency and intensity of your headaches, along with other lifestyle changes.
So your top 10 holistic tips to relieve that tension headache are:
- Massage of course!
- Improve your posture; make sure your desk set up is perfect.
- Take breaks and do your stretches (see below).
- Heat such as a wheat bag around the neck and shoulders can help.
- Essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus rubbed into the temples (diluted in a carrier oil of course) or lavender as an inhalation or in the bath. Book in with our aromatherapist Danielle!
- Drink at least 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day (set a reminder on your phone if you have to!)
- Magnesium supplements are fantastic for muscle and neural tension and studies indicate it is great for reducing headaches.
- Chiropractic care. getting your spine checked and adjusted by the awesome team at Back in Action is a must if pain persists.
- Eating well; foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, edamame for their magnesium, coQ10 and B vitamins. Ginger and turmeric for anti-inflammatory properties too.
- Get your eyes tested.
Best headache relieving stretches
- Neck stretch: tip your head to the side and tuck your chin in. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Pect (chest) stretch: place your arm(elbow) in a door frame at a 90 degree angle then gently turn your body away to stretch your chest.
- Chin tucks: more than likely you’ll have forward head posture, so you want to get your head back on top of your neck not protruding forward like a turtle! Put your finger on your chin and draw your chin away like giving yourself a double chin! Repeat 10 times in one set, once a day...every day!
Time to book your massage with one of our qualified and super-friendly massage therapists...we are here to help and we’ve had great success with relieving headaches, so don’t delay book now!