By Carey Giddens

Headaches and migraines are thought to be the most common nervous system pain we face as human beings. In fact, the World Health Organisation suggests that up to 1 in 20 adults suffers from a headache every – or nearly every – day!

So, it goes without saying that most (if not all) of us have suffered from headaches at some stage in our lives. They can be debilitating and have a substantial impact. Trying to concentrate with a pounding headache, or even worse with a migraine, is almost impossible.

Painkillers are a common go-to and definitely have their place but it’s important to understand your headache and its origin. Your doctor may need to be a part of that journey but there are other options to consider that can be hugely beneficial to a certain type of headache. What people often don’t understand is that headaches are NOT created equal and the most common form of headache is what is called a “tension headache”.

The Mayo Clinic characterises tension headaches as “generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head.” Tension headaches can last for minutes, days, or weeks in some cases. Whatever definition you give it however, they are never enjoyable and it’s often not defined what causes them.

“Dr Google” gives us many confusing explanations as to why you may be getting tension headaches, but one thing that is known is that they can occur when neck, shoulder, jaw or scalp muscles become tense or contracted for long periods of time. This can be a response to a number of different factors. Including:

  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • posture related issues or injuries – including whiplash.

Some of the current main ideas around tension headaches point to stress as being the major trigger which can manifest both physically and emotionally. Posture related neck and shoulder tension is also very common with seated jobs such as computer/desk based or driving. Other triggers could include eye strain, jaw clenching or grinding and fatigue. So, it’s incredibly important to get a quality assessment to identify the root cause of your tension headache(s).

This is where quality Massage Therapy comes in. And sorry, it does need to be quality as you’ll see from below…  Massage Therapy works to relieve tension headaches by counteracting and correcting the dysfunctions and imbalances described above.

A quality Massage Therapist will be able to identify that the tension headache is coming from something like clenching or grinding your teeth causing the muscles in the jaw to tighten which is commonly linked to stress and is often done during the night while sleeping (which means you don’t always even know you are doing it).

This is where inter-oral jaw work with a disposable glove on can really help release this area. Even though it may sound weird someone massaging the inside of your mouth, it can really help. This is NOT something we would suggest you try with the massage place in your shopping mall!

It’s also important to combine Massage Therapy with exercise but maybe not why you thought! Yes, exercise is vital to health and releases feel good hormones, but the right exercise can be used to work hand-and-hand with Massage Therapy so that when muscles and structures are released and corrected, strengthening and conditioning can be done to hold the new more effective posture. Otherwise you will go back into the old posture that was causing the headache.

Put simply, our role is not to merely take away your symptoms (we will do that), we also look to prevent them from coming back! Through a consistent combination of Massage Therapy and Exercise Rehabilitation, we know we can make a massive improvement in your headache frequency and severity.

Please call us on 834 9901 to book an appointment with our qualified Massage Therapist, Melody Dickinson. As well as being available at our CBD clinic, Melody also works at our Melville clinic on Thursdays.

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