5 tips to relieve tension headaches and how massage can help!
Finding ways of relieving tension headaches can become a real priority in your life when they become inconvenient. Tension headaches can cause a mild and generalised pain, but they usually come without nausea and vomiting, that is often associated with migraines or brain tumors. But what are exactly a tension headaches? In this blog you can find what they are, what triggers them, and how to relieve them. Let´s have a look!
What is a tension headache?
The most important thing you should know about tension headaches is that they are not a real headaches! what? Yes, as weird as it sounds, a tension headache is a referral pain that spreads to your head.
In other words, tension headaches are caused by the compression or tension of a distant muscle, but the pain is reflected in your head (you feel pain in your head not in the muscle).
The ache, or pain of a tension headache, is usually spread over the entire head but it is prominent on the forehead and base of the skull.
Both episodic or chronic tension headaches can disrupt your life. For example, you may have to miss days at work and even when you do go in to work your function may be impaired.
How do I know if my headache is tension?
- You could find tender points in the scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles.
- You could experience dull aching head pain
- Pain is normally presented across the forehead or on the side of the head.
- You could feel Sensation of tightness at the base of the skull or pressure across the forehead.
What are the causes of tension headaches?
Most experts believe that stress and muscle tension are the biggest causes of tension headaches.
What triggers a tension headache?
Tension headaches are triggered by:
- tight neck and shoulder muscles, this could be due to bad posture
- stress & anxiety
- jaw problems like temporomandibular joint dysfunction
- and head injury.
How can I relieve tension headaches?
- Applying heat such as hot pads, hot water bottle, hot lotions or creams or hot showers to release the muscle of the neck, shoulder, and base of the skull.
- Apply ice or cool washcloth to the forehead
- Massage neck and shoulder and apply pressure on the sensitive points and hold it for a few minutes to deactivate trigger points.
- Stretch neck and shoulder muscles
- Reduce stress levels, you can use breathing techniques to reduce them. These might include exercises such as rhythmic breathing or deep breathing.
Can massage help with relieving tension headaches?
Massage has many benefits. When your therapist massages the affected area ( the stiff/tensed muscle or the compressed nerved), for example, in the base of the skull, neck or shoulders, that helps you to relax and loosen these muscles, soft tissue or nerves; as a result, tension is released and the symptom (headache) goes away.
In addition, massage therapy can:
- reduce your heart rate,
- increase your body’s release of its own natural painkillers
- help to reduce stress and anxiety
All this has the added benefit of not only helping you alleviate your headaches but also, adding a general feel-good factor to your day.
A word of caution
There are some occasions where such headaches should mean you need to see your doctor.
If you experience an abrupt and severe headache see your GP first. And if you have a headache after a head injury, especially if it gets worse, also see your GP first.
We are always happy to help!