Headaches

When we get a headache, or worse a Migraine, our life can sometimes stop.  We would do anything to help ease the pain, nausea, and other symptoms that go along with it. Well, I’m not saying that these ideas will help; I’m simply telling you what helped me. As always please refer to my “rules for stretching”. With this blog, I wanted to get out a little of the information I have. I will be updating this blog over time, as it seems that I learn more about headaches at every seminar I attend.

 

Headaches may feel like they are in your head, but most are actually on it, between your skull and skin. I confirm that my headache is here by giving my fascia (the connective tissue that holds your skin to your skull) either less or more room.  To give less room, I simply squeeze my head between my hands. I will sometimes give extra pressure with my fingertips, or move my hands in little circles. I make sure to press all over my cranium, including my face and the top of my neck. To give my fascia more room, I grab fistfuls of hair really close to my scalp. Sometimes just grabbing the hair is enough to cause my headache to react. Other times I need to pull and or twist. My headaches don’t always ease when I do these tests, sometimes they seem to spike. So I always go slow and easy. Occasionally, just doing this gets my headache to go away. And if my head no longer aches, I think that’s a good thing! J

 

If during those tests my headache reacts, but doesn’t ease, I move on to the trigger points (trPs). Most trPs for headaches, according to Travel and Simon, are in the neck and/or face. I test where the trP is by first stretching my neck; please refer to my neck stretches blog for ideas. If my headache reacts when my head is forward, I look for the trP directly below my skull near my spine. (sometimes the little bugger is lower along spine like the middle or bottom of the neck.) If my headache reacts when I twist my head, I work the trP on the sides of my neck near the tops of my shoulders. (Yours might not be in exactly the same location as mine, don’t be afraid to “look” around.) And if my headache reacts when my head is tipped back, I work the ropey muscles that frame my throat. (You might need to work behind them, or under your chin?) When I work my trP I try to stay relaxed and breathe. Sometimes I can barely touch the spot, sometimes I need to use more pressure. I know when I hit the right spot when my headache reacts or I feel pain where I am pressing. I also know that everything is connected, so sometimes even if the trP that is causing my headache is near my throat, working the other areas feels good and helps my headache as well.

 

If I didn’t find a trP that worked in my neck, I move to my face. I get a lot of headaches due to clenching my teeth. So pinching and pulling on my cheeks always hurts. Even now, as I write this blog, I pressed on my cheeks and felt a headache under the surface. In fact often pressing, pinching, and pulling on my cheeks eases the few sinus headaches I get. If my headache is caused by a trP in my face, it is in my cheeks; but maybe your trP isn’t. Perhaps you would need to work your chin, forehead, or eye sockets? Do not press directly on your eyeballs! I have found that trPs are tricky things. They can be difficult to find, to know how much pressure is needed, and whether I should be less aggressive (just press) or more aggressive (twist, rub, or wiggle). I just remember that as long as I can relax and breathe easily, I’m ok. It took a while, but I learned what “good pain” feels like and now I look forward to my massage therapist finding those spots and working them out.

 

I have found any of my headaches caused or triggered by stress have a muscular component that I can massage away, thus easing the headache. There are headaches I have tried to help in my clients that Swedish massage doesn’t seem to help at all. Those clients still like the Swedish massage, and it gives them a tiny bit of relief while they are on my table; but the relaxation just doesn’t seem to be enough. Lucky for me, and some of those clients, I have multiple modalities that I use. I will sometimes use CranioSacral Therapy, Fascia Release, Scar Tissue therapy, and/or a few others. Unfortunately these other modalities aren’t easily explained in a blog. There are also a few clients I have had in the past that didn’t get any long term relief from any of my techniques. Those clients I referred to a different massage therapist, counseling, and/or a doctor.

 

I truly like to use my Rule of 3: If any one technique doesn’t show positive results towards your goal within 3 sessions, then it isn’t the right technique. I have found a slight exception to that rule now. Scar Tissue Therapy effects are sometimes very subtle. I have found that most people have positive effects after as little as one session. However, because the work is very gentle, it’s just not as obvious.

Mary is a State Licensed and Nationally Certified Massage Therapist. She has experience with Energy Work, Myofascial Massage, Pressure Point Therapy, Reiki, Swedish Massage and Trigger Point Therapy. Mary works with clients of all ages, both male and female, in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

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