Archive for July, 2010

Eliminate Headaches With Bodywork

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Many people are commonly plagued by headaches.  And anyone who suffers from them can identify with the debilitating and painful affects.   Studies show that over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches every year.  That is roughly 1 out of every 6 people. (InfoMed.com)

Headaches are such an ordinary affliction today that people do not realize what they actually indicate.    Did you know that headaches are the biggest way that stress will manifest itself to a person?  Let’s say that you estimate that you get 5 headaches each month.  To some this may not seem like a big deal, but it actually may suggest a legitimate stress problem.  If you notice a recurrence of headaches, even if the pattern is infrequent, your body might be warning you of a bigger issue.  Of course, no 2 people are the same and everyone experiences headaches differently.  To be able to identify what is causing your headaches, its important to first understand what type of headache you suffer from.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches can be categorized as Episodic or Chronic.  Episodic headaches occur randomly and are typically the result of temporary stress, fatigue or anxiety.   Doctors will often tell you to take an (OTC) drug to defeat infrequent tension headaches.  But if you notice that you are taking something daily, or almost daily, to eliminate headaches, you may be suffering from Chronic Tension Headaches. The symptoms of Tension Headaches include an overall sensation of tightness in the forehead, pressure in your temples, and contracting head and neck muscles.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines continue to remain a mystery to people and researchers.  We do not know the cause but migraines often cause people to feel helpless due to the fact that they can strike at any moment and put your life on hold for a few hours or even days.  Approximately 29.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraines and 4 out of 5 of them report a family history. (National Headache Foundation)

Migraines tend to start out as a dull ache and get progressively worse very quickly.  However, there is a very wide range of symptoms and in my experience I have found that each person suffers these headaches in a unique way.  Symptoms often include throbbing/pulsating pain in the head, blind spots, sensitivity to light and/or noise, and sometimes even nausea or vomiting.  And although they can begin in childhood, they typically occur in people’s 20s and 30s.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are a more rare form of headaches.  I have maybe come across 2 people who have described these symptoms to me.  Cluster headaches will attack in groups of headaches.  It seems that the pain will arrive immediately with no warning and that it is quite intense.  These headaches last for up to an hour, sometimes longer, and will occur several times in one day.

Looking for Salt Lake City Utah Massage Therapy?  Contact me at  (801) 349-3934.

Now that you are able to identify what type of headache you are suffering from, lets talk about how to get rid of them!  Many of my clients have come to me specifically to eliminate headaches.  Once we have had our initial bodywork session, I will give them this list of things that have helped previous clients suffering from headaches;

  • Drink at least 10 cups of water a day
  • Exercise 30 minutes each day
  • Refrain from drinking Soda pop
  • Cut back on your sugar intake
  • Try not to chew gum very often
  • If you drink coffee on a very regular basis, cut back or cut coffee out completely

Sometimes their headaches will subside just by following 1 or more of these guidelines and they will not continue getting bodywork from me!  But if the headaches persist, I am always very confident that massage will dissolve their headaches for good.  In fact, any client who has complained of headaches has always had results after our sessions.  In my experience, headaches are more often than not, a muscular problem.  There are many muscles in our neck and face which, if addressed, can substantially release tension.

One specific group of muscles, called our Suboccipitals, lie very deep in the back of our neck.  In my opinion, massage is the most effective way to reach and loosen these muscles.  Massaging the Suboccipitals also helps restore proper blood flow throughout the neck and head to prevent headaches in the future.  Below is a posterior view of our Suboccipitals.

This is just one group of muscles that contributes to headaches.  Another group is called your Scalenes.  These muscles are sectioned into your Anterior, Medius and Posterior Scalenes.  It is important for me to work these muscles as well since they also make a huge contribution to causing your headaches.

And the last group of muscles that I like to spend some time on in a head and neck session, is your facial muscles.  Believe it or not, but over time your face acquires actual knots.  These knots are very small of course but they are partly responsible for the tension you feel during a headache episode.

The biggest reason I am so confident about massage dissolving headaches is because I have learned from personal experience.  I suffered migraines a few times a month, sometimes a few times a week, from ages 19-21.  Once I started receiving regular massage for about 3 months, my migraines completely went away.  If you suffer from headaches, please give massage a try.  You will most likely be pleasantly surprised at the results.

If you’re looking for massage and bodywork in Salt Lake City, Utah please contact me at (801) 349-3934.