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WHAT MASSAGE CAN DO TO HELP ALLEVIATE TENSION HEADACHES

Nina J. Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What is a Tension Headache?
A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that's often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. A tension headache is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren't well-understood.
You’ve probably had many of these so far in your life, and in fact are twice as likely to have had them if you’re a woman. While the pain can range from just a nagging pressure to a persistent aching, an important distinction in tension headaches is whether you get them occasionally or all the time. In other words, whether they’re ‘episodic’ or ‘chronic.’ Chronic tension headaches are defined as 15 or more headaches per month, over a period of three months.
Why is that important? Because how you treat them will likely be different. While you might choose to deal with an episodic tension headache with medication, longer term use of painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen have side effects too, including damage to the stomach lining, other gastrointestinal issues and more. A longer-term solution for chronic tension headaches should instead include a good dose of self-care, as well as massage therapy.
What Causes a Tension Headache?
No one really knows for sure, but one thing that is certain is that stress is a trigger. Other triggers can include hunger, low iron levels or even fatigue! So obviously, one way to help alleviate or prevent tension headaches is by eating balanced meals, getting a good night’s sleep and avoiding stress. That said, since our busy lifestyles of work deadlines and personal challenges aren’t likely to get easier, you need to find other ways to de-stress, unwind and relax.
How Can Massage Help with Tension Headaches?
Course of massage therapy sessions, muscle specific—neck and shoulder areas—and focused on corresponding trigger points, resulted in a significant reduction in the frequency and duration of tension headaches for chronic sufferers.
And even better, these benefits were experienced not just in the first week after the four-week treatment period started, but was an ongoing benefit throughout the study and even beyond. The longer-term effects, rather than short term ‘one off’ benefits of medication, demonstrate the value in massage therapy as a treatment for tension headaches.
Since massage has so many additional benefits, beyond the treatment of headaches, including reduction of stress, muscle tightness and myofascial release for restoring full range of motion, massage therapy is a positive choice, with no negative side effects!

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