Getting a massage for your headache is one of the best natural headache treatments there is.
And odds are, you could use some headache relief every now and then, since research shows nearly everyone has an occasional headache.
Today we’re going to break down all the common headache types, explain the various natural treatments, and wrap things up with an explanation of why massage works so well for headaches.
Which Type Of Headache Do You Have?
Believe it or not, there are three different categories of headaches and six different individual types within those categories. They range from common and benign to potentially serious.
Tension-type headaches (TTH) are the most common of all headaches, although many people who suffer from them never see a doctor for treatment. Though their exact cause is still unknown, TTH are typically characterized by recurring feelings of tightening or pressure in the head that lasts from minutes to weeks. Tension-type headaches are often mistaken for migraines, although the two present very differently.
The umbrella of vascular headaches includes four different subtypes of headaches, including cluster headaches, sinus headaches, and migraines (with and without aura). Migraines are up to 3 times more common in women than in men, due to hormonal differences. Migraines are intense headaches on one or both sides of the head, usually accompanied by nausea, and light or sound sensitivity. Migraines may also be preceded by an “aura,” a visual disturbance which may appear to be shimmering lights, fractal lines, or stars.
This type of headache is rare but can be serious, with possible causes ranging from stroke to sinus infection. In this case, the headache is serving as the canary in the coal mine, sounding the alarm about a more serious issue within the body. Traction or inflammatory headaches should be treated by your healthcare provider as soon as possible to rule out potentially serious causes.
How Does Massage For Headache Work?
More than just a relaxing way to loosen your tense back muscles, massage can prevent and reduce headaches as well.
Massage therapy has proven to be an effective measure for reducing both chronic migraines and tension headaches. Massage also eases the muscle tension in the neck, jaw, and shoulders, which can cause headaches in the first place.
Massage for headaches also has the benefit of being economical (when compared with pharmaceutical interventions) and having no known side effects. Research shows that professional therapeutic massage can decrease pain, tension, duration, intensity, and frequency of headaches.
Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before adjusting any treatment plan. They may be encouraged to know that massage is an evidence-based natural treatment for both tension and migraine headaches.
Natural Relief For Migraine Headaches
Those who experience migraines – nearly 1 in every 7 adults worldwide – know how challenging it is to function through the throbbing pain, nausea, and light or sound sensitivity that come with them. Therapeutic massage may give hope to those who suffer from migraines.
One study noted that massage reduced the frequency of migraines and improved sleep for participants who suffered from chronic migraines. Results of another study showed that following a neck massage and spinal manipulation, patients show a reduction in pain even in the midst of an active migraine.
Scalp massage is one specific technique that shows promise for reducing pain from migraines, based on research. And when you can barely open your eyes and have to keep yourself in a dark room to reduce the pain, scheduling an in-home massage for your migraine may be a great alternative to navigating through brightly lit traffic to find some comfort.
A Holistic Treatment For Tension Headaches
Massage is also good news for people who have chronic tension headaches. Studies show that massage may not only prevent tension headaches but also reduce their frequency. Some tension headaches are brought on by muscles which are chronically contracted, creating points within the muscles where oxygenated blood can’t flow through as freely. Because massage therapy techniques work to increase fresh blood flow to areas that need it, it may reduce pain in those areas that are throbbing due to chronic contraction.
One study found that for participants with tension headaches, even just 30 minutes of massage showed significant physical and psychological improvements, including their perception of pain.
Self Care Is Crucial For Reducing Headaches
As you seek non-pharmacologic treatments for your headaches, be sure to keep your own self-care in mind. In addition to professional massage, regular exercise, meditation, and certain supplements are other proven holistic headache relievers.
Try to ward off a nasty headache before it gets too bad by scheduling a massage as soon as you notice it coming on. You can even ask your massage therapist for some self-massage techniques you can use in the future while you’re trying to get rid of a headache at home. Remember, stress and poor sleep are indicators for migraines and other chronic headaches, so be sure to take good care of your body and avoid stress in addition to getting your regular massage. Of course, using Zeel’s app gives you the freedom to have a professional massage therapist help you find relief within the comfort of your own home, no bright lights or loud noises necessary.