Headaches are rude. They ruin your plans, or rather, make your plans miserable. They seem to come out of nowhere. You're tired of reaching for your work tylenol, your car tylenol, or your bedside tylenol. Ready for a different approach?
Headaches and migraines are frequently related to tension in the MUSCLES of our head, neck, shoulders, jaw, and upper back. If you get frequent headaches, is your pain usually on one side or does it flip flop? Isn't it weird that most of the time, it's on one side? You likely have built-up tension in your body from stress, poor posture, dehydration, and/or trigger points. Muscle relaxers and pain medication can help temporarily, but the ROOT CAUSE is still there. Manual therapy AKA massage therapy AKA soft tissue mobilization is one of the most effective treatments for headaches because it actually resolves the tension causing the headache pain.
Which area reflects your pain?
Tension headaches often result from tension in the jaw. Take your fingers and press along the muscles between your cheek bone and your bottom jaw. Feel something that resembles small pebbles? That's muscular tension from clenching your teeth when you're stressed or annoyed.
Headaches that start in the back of the neck near your hairline are often called occipital headaches. There are about a dozen muscles that connect at the base of your skull. These headaches are common in people with poor posture, that sit at a desk for long hours at a time. Make sure you sit up straight in your chair and don't jut your head forward trying to become one with that excel spreadsheet.
MIGRAINE. The big kahuna of headaches, these can last several days. Migraines affect more females than males. They are highly correlated to hormonal changes thoughout the month, but alcohol, certain foods, smells, and stress are other triggers. Migraines typically affect one side of the head and cause nausea for many people. We can intercept the pain by reducing the muscular tension, whether your migraine is just starting or has already taken over your day.
If you can't bring yourself to leave the house when you have a headache, try these at-home remedies:
ICE. Ice relieves inflammation and pain. While heat may feel more comforting, it actually can make the problem worse by increasing
blood flow to an already inflamed area. Ice your neck, forehead, and jaw.
Check out this whole-head ice pack from Amazon that feels delightful.
2. Hang your head backwards over the side of your bed while lying on your back. Simple, but effective way to release tension from the muscles in the back of your neck. Stay in this position for several minutes.
As an alternative, or if you get light-headed doing this, try the CranioCradle!
3. Rub a 3% dilution of Lavender Essential oil on your temples, back of your neck, and under your nose. Lavender helps calm your nervous system to reduce tension. We love the Plant Therapy brand because it is a quality product that you can buy without getting harassed by an MLM scheme!
Why is diluted EO the best to use on your skin? Why not go for "maximum strength?" Because too much EO can be harmful, and could make your symptoms worse. Think of "diluted" as the recommended dosage.
The bottom line? Your body is trying to alert you of a problem. If you're local to Hampton Roads, book a massage with us at www.kineticrestorationva.com. If you need help finding a skilled massage therapist in your area, try these keyword searches:
Trigger Point, Neuromuscular Massage, Myoskeletal Alignment, Deep Tissue Massage. Or call your local physical therapist for a recommendation!