Is it a migraine or a headache?
Many people in San Diego are needlessly suffering from headaches, migraines, and general stiffness of the neck and shoulders. Often clients who come in with a complaint of suffering from migraines are actually suffering from a tension headache or stress induced headache. So how do you tell the difference? The primary differences are in the symptoms and the causes and need to be addressed accordingly to get the best results. It is important to address both the muscular and skeletal systems whenever chronic migraines or headaches are present to improve the quality of your life. While the tension headaches receive direct relief from massage, migraine suffers can derive tremendous benefit from the same work as taking pressure off the musculature can also reduce the pressure on the vascular system that is the primary source of pain in chemical induced migraines. While this may not completely eliminate migraines it does often reduce the frequency and severity!
What does a Migraine Feel like?
-One side of your head hurts
-Hurts to move
-Sensitive to light or sound
-Lasts 4 or more hours
-Can’t be slept through
-Often sudden onset
What does a Tension Headache Feel like?
-Whole head hurts
-No throbbing sensation
-Pain in neck or shoulders
-No sensitivity to light
-Pressure in the head
Why do we get headaches and migraines?
Muscles in the neck shoulders and head tense up due to any of the following: poor posture, muscular imbalances, overuse, or simply to much stress. Migraines can also be triggered by exposure to certain chemicals, foods, and environmental factors. There is also a very minor possibility that a headache or migraine can be caused by a more severe medical condition so be aware that if there are also other symptoms you should consult a physician to be on the safe side.
How does massage help recover from headaches and migraines?
The first step in successfully relieving stress induced headaches is to identify the root cause within the body. The most common culprits are muscles located at the base of the skull, neck, chest and shoulders. The imbalance in these muscles causes muscles to strain and over time develop hyper sensitive areas called “trigger points”. These “trigger points” radiate pain to other areas of the body, in this case inside your head often behind the eyes and at the back or base of the skull.
Visually a person will often also be suffering from a head forward posture noticeable by the chin jutting forward or the ears being in front of the shoulders rather than directly over them. This head forward position takes the weight of the head off the spine and instead forces the muscles of the back and neck to hold up your head, thats about 10-12 pounds constantly being held up all day every day.
To correct the headaches and head forward posture massage is used to loosen the muscles of the chest, shoulders, neck and skull allowing better posture and alleviate the chronic stress and tension caused by the head being to far forward. Special attention to the Scalenes and SCM muscles help the head forward posture, while work on the Pectoralis Major, Minor, and biceps muscles allows the shoulders to roll back and down giving your head a proper place to rest! With the muscles pulling you forward loosened you now need to strengthen the muscles of the back to hold your posture in the correct position
How to prevent / recover from stress headaches and migraines?
-Fix posture by balancing muscles (Stretching, exercises, massage)
-Change bad habits (slouching, sleeping in ways that compromise your neck)
-Stretch neck, shoulder, and chest muscles everyday
-Avoid environmental triggers (Certain foods and chemicals)
-Fix work or study area to be posture friendly
There are several tools which can be very useful for self massage one of my favorites is the:
Davinci Tool set which has a great tool for laying and relaxing the sub-occipital muscle at the base of the skull, and a great cane tool to work on the back on the neck and shoulders which are usually very tight on anyone with chronic headaches or migraines.
Migraine / Headache Testimonials
Mary M. 3/17/2015, San Diego, CA
I’ve suffered from tension headaches and neck pain due to my sleeping positions and stress, so I knew I needed major help! Neille quickly pinpointed that my left hip was sitting slightly forward than my right, and explained how it was contributing to my pain. He worked on my hip, neck, and shoulders while explaining ways to relieve my every day stress. After the massage, he showed me different ways to stretch my hip, the proper way to sleep, and sit at my desk. He also gave me a new night routine to help me get deeper, quality sleep. I was so impressed and am excited for my next massage!