We’ve all suffered from headaches at a home point in our life, and perhaps even the dreaded migraine, both of which can be debilitating, and let’s face it – painful. If you experience headaches that last a long time, a few hours or days, it can really zap your energy and impact your every life. If you’re tired of taking paracetamol and want an alternative therapy, massage is a great option.

There are two main types of headaches –tension and vascular headaches.

Types & How Massage Helps

Tension Headache
A tension headache is the most common and is usually mild in symptoms. It lasts up to an hour and it can be felt all across the head.

Tired young woman massaging nose bridge at workplace

These headaches are generally caused by muscle tension, eye strain, and imbalances in the musculoskeletal system. Three types of tension headache include chronic – which is when you have them more than 15 times a month; frequent episodic, more than once a month but less than 15 times, and infrequent which might occur just 2-3 times a month.

Vascular Headache

Vascular headaches, on the other hand, are the more “pounding” type that you get where the pain is much more severe and it can last hours or even days. This includes the classic migraine, which can include blurred vision, flashing lights, hallucinations, muscle weakness, and even speech difficulty. Triggers include stress, lack of sleep or too much sleep, and specific foods. Another type of migraine is one that includes throbbing pain, but no flashing lights or blurred vision. There may be nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, though. Cluster headaches start with a heavy pain in the eye, radiating to the neck, shoulders, and around the head. You may even have a red eye or swelling, and it generally lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. And the final type is a sinus headache, which is triggered by allergies or infection and is the result of too much fluid in the sinus. Common symptoms of this headache type include pain in the cheek, nose, and forehead.

How Massage Helps Headaches

Headaches and migraines are accompanied, or even caused, by neck pain, which is why many people get relief from symptoms with a massage. Massage can apply pressure to sensitive sore spots of the muscle, or trigger points, helping them to relax and in turn relieve tension. Massage also improves blood flow and promotes circulation, which helps to relieve pain; and it can loosen tight muscles attached to the base of the skull. Not only that, but massage also decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases endorphins which promotes relaxation. When you’re feeling relaxed, you’ll sleep better, and headaches are more likely to fade away.

Which Massage Is Best?

There are a few different types of massage you can get to benefit your headaches. Remedial massage works by hitting those trigger points mentioned earlier, applying pressure to sensitive spots in the muscle, increasing the blood flow, and reducing pain and stiffness. Shiatsu massage also applies pressure, but this time to acupuncture points all over the body, including those linked to head and neck pain. Although these two types are prominent for hitting pressure points, any type of massage can assist with headache, simple for the fact it relaxes you.

Research has found that just 30 minutes of massage can actually improve pain from a headache. If you suffer from headaches or migraines, book yourself in for a massage and see if it improves.

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