Headaches are the single most commonly discussed physical ailment. The vast majority of people experience headaches on at least a monthly basis, and most more often than that. Why is it that for something so common, there are relatively few treatments or cures, other than pain relievers? Most people turn to over-the-counter medications, but these can sometimes have unwanted side-effects, and also are less natural. In some cases, they may actually make the headache worse, when the medicine wears off.
There are different categories of headaches, ranging from extreme migraines which cause hallucinations, to minor pains. Headaches are understood scientifically to be caused by a variety of factors, but in general are related to inflammation and irritation of the soft tissues around the brain, as well as around the outside of the skull, including arteries, veins, muscles, and nerves. The reason those tissues are inflamed can include food allergies, stress, poor circulation, hormone imbalance, lack of sleep, illness, other pain, and more.
Luckily for us, the single most common type of headache is also the one that is most treatable, by massage. Tension headaches are poorly understood, but could be cause by a variety of factors such as loss of sleep, stress, and dietary irregularities. They are also often contributed to by poor posture, and unnecessary muscle strain.
With causes like those, it should come as no surprise that massage for headaches helps, since therapeutic massage is specialized in relieving muscular tension, and stress. Various scientific studies have proven that massage relieves tension headaches, and reduces the necessity for medication. So, if you are looking for non-chemical ways of reducing your tension headaches, massage therapy should be your first line of defense.
Not only does massage help with tension headaches, but some (albeit more limited) studies have shown that it can help with migraines, as well. Migraines are thought to be caused by the over-excitation of a particular nerve, and the ensuing high-blood pressure in the surrounding blood vessels. Research has shown massage to be an excellent supplement to migraine medication, probably because it relaxes this nerve, along with all the other nerves, as well as improving circulation.
There are even more meta causes of headaches and migraines, which massage also may help with. These include the hormonal balance of the body, as well as overall muscular relaxation, improvement of sleep quantity and quality, and general circulation. All of these things contribute to a reduction in headaches. Really, this is just another way of saying that massage makes you healthier in general, and improved general health means less headaches.
If you’re a headache sufferer, you should at least try massage, and see if it helps. It’s probably best to try a full month of weekly or bi-weekly massages, to get the full effect of the general improvement of circulation and reduction of muscular tension. If it’s not enough, then you can turn to medication, or supplement medication with massage therapy. However, it’s our opinion that the natural way is always best, and if you can reduce the chemical variables you’re putting into your body’s system, this is always preferable.