Massage for Headache Reduction

February 8, 2018 / Ed Graef  / 

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.

Intro to Thai Massage

January 25, 2018 / Ed Graef  / 

If you’re considering something a bit different, for your next trip to the massage therapist, you may want to try out Thai massage. Thai massage is an ancient method, which focuses more on the person as a whole, and also utilizes different mechanical techniques to provide relief and create peace in body and mind.


How is Thai Massage Different?

First of all, Thai massage is about not just the body, but the total mind-body-spirit connection. This is something to take into consideration, before going to a Thai massage session; if the idea of something as ephemeral as spirit being involved in your massage therapy isn’t very appealing to you, then you may want to stick with Swedish and other methods. However, if you’re interested in exploring this further, it’s definitely worth trying.


In terms of the actual techniques, while every Thai massage therapist is slightly different, the overall approach and methodology has it’s origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine; so, as you might expect, it can involve various herbs, oils, balms, and the use of heat to relax the client. There may also be aromatherapy and music involved, all to create a certain atmosphere, to relax not just your muscles, but your mind and spirit as well, to bring a greater balance and wholeness. This is the goal of Thai Massage.


What’s a Session Like?

Unlike Swedish and other forms of massage, in Thai massage, you remain fully clothed. As mentioned, various oils, poulstices, and aroma therapy may be utilized, based on the conversation you’ve had with your massage therapist in the intake, to address your specific personality and needs.

The actual massage itself involves the therapist maintaining contact with the client throughout the massage, and focusing heavily on acupressure points, joints, and other areas of concern. The idea behind this form of massage is that it’s not merely to relax your muscles, but also to release blockages of energy, chi, or prana which may have developed, similar to acupuncture or other traditional healing modalities. The therapist may take the client into positions similar to yoga, and pull or stretch the client this way or that, or engage in rocking motions. This is all to release blockages, and create balance.


While this is happening, you may notice thoughts and feelings emerging, which you didn’t know were there; in traditional medicine, they might say that these are psychic or energetic blockages which were being stored in various parts of your body; they are emerging in your mind, because you are releasing them.

Results

When it comes to the results, it will all depend on various factors, such as the mastery of your Thai massage therapist, your own openness to this form of massage and it’s goals and mindset, and how much work there is to be done. If your blockages run deeply enough, it may take several sessions to completely alleviate them. However, it’s hard to imagine coming away from a Thai Massage session less relaxed, so even if you end up deciding it wasn’t for you, it should be thoroughly enjoyable and provide some stress relief and peace of mind. Enjoy!

Massage and Other Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

December 19, 2017 / Ed Graef  / 

Seasons are interesting things. Each person has their own preference, and people’s experiences of the seasons vary widely. For some, Winter is a jolly time for cozy hot chocolate, snow-covered landscapes, and Winter sports. However, for 6% of the population, Winter brings on a depressive condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and truth be told, and even larger portion of the population most likely experiences some depressive symptoms during the Winter.

While there are a variety of methods that people have to deal with SAD, such as antidepressant pharmaceuticals or light visors which stimulate the brain in a way that simulates sunlight, one palliative solution that many people may not think of is massage. While a good massage is always relaxing, there are also certain types of massage which have specifically antidepressant qualities.


One great example is Japanese Trigger-Point Massage, which actually utilizes “trigger points” along the body, which can have wide-ranging effects on the total physiology and bodily functioning. Some of these trigger points actually help to stimulate the brain’s own natural antidepressant chemicals, such as dopamine. In a session with this goal in mind, a Trigger-Point Masseuse will focus on these special areas, to provide clients with some extra relief from their seasonal blues.

Doesn’t that sound better than taking a pill? Especially or those of us who prefer natural solutions when possible, while massage likely won’t make your Winter gloom feel like a green Summer’s day, it can really help to take the edge off, and provide you with some relief, in conjunction with other therapies you may be practicing.


Naturally, there are also more mechanical Winter issues which quality massage can help to alleviate. These can include injuries or soreness from Skiing or Snowboarding, or simply seasonal aches and pains which many of us get with cold weather, especially as we ripen into our golden years.


On top of that, the stresses of daily life can seem even worse for some, when they can’t be followed by a relieving walk in the park, or some yoga in the sun. For many, Winter has us feeling trapped indoors, which means whatever stress we are carrying can be even greater. All the more reason to utilize massage for Winter depression to help you overcome your SAD.


Here are some other tips, which can serve as complementary therapeutic solutions for SAD along with massage:

  • Aromatherapy – This natural method has been proven to have antidepressive effects!
  • Get Some Sun – Even if you can’t be outside, find a location in your home or elsewhere, where perhaps there are large windows, and on days when the sun does shine, spend as much time there as you can.
  • Supplements – Try some vitamin D, St. John’s Wart, and other natural supplements that contribute to happy chemicals in your brain.
  • Talk to Your Doctor – Of course we always recommend trying natural methods first, but if your depression is severely affecting your life, you may want to also consult with your physician.

Thanks for reading, I hope that this post is helpful for you, and may the Springtime live always within your heart, no matter the weather!

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June 28, 2017 / admin  / 
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