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Massage Therapy and Tension Headaches

Tension Headache is a muscle-contracted-type headache.


Tension headaches occur when the muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw become tight and tense. This type of headaches generally characterize a diffuse, mild to moderate pain that's often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. A tension headache — or tension-type headache as it's medically known — is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren't well understood.


Causes of tension headaches are trigger points that refer pain into the head and neck.

Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache. Such activities include typing or other computer work, fine work with the hands, and using a microscope. Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may also trigger a tension headache.

Other triggers of tension headaches include:

Alcohol use Caffeine (too much or withdrawal) Colds, the flu, or a sinus infection Dental problems such as jaw clenching or teeth grinding Eye strain Excessive smoking Fatigue or overexertion.

How Massage Therapy can help with Tension Headaches?

Massage therapy offers two important benefits to tension headache sufferers: it may help relieve actual headache pain, and it may help prevent headaches by reducing tension and improving circulation.

Massage works by increasing oxygen and blood flow to tense muscles. During a tension headache, muscles of the scalp, jaw and neck are tightly contracted. The blood vessels supplying oxygen to these muscles are constricted, so that the muscles must work with an inadequate supply of nutrients. It is believed that this combination of muscle spasm and inadequate blood supply is the main cause of pain in tension headaches.

Massage can help overcome your body's response to stress. With the right pushing, pulling and manipulation of your tense muscles, you may begin to feel stress slipping away. You can consider using massage whenever you are feeling especially tense or anxious, or you may want to have massages on a regular basis, such as once or twice a month. You can practice self-massage, or get a massage from a professional massage therapist. (If you have any neck problems, check with your doctor before trying any massage technique.)

References http://vancouvermassagetherapy.net/wellness-solutions/are-you-suffering-from-tension-headaches/ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tension-headache/DS00304 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001800/