We recently talked about how massage therapy can be beneficial for stress relief; today, we’re going to talk about how you can use it to find relief from headaches or migraines.
The American Massage Therapy Association has asserted that massage can be an effective therapy for those who suffer from chronic headaches. And unlike prescription pain relievers, regular massage therapy treatments can provide long-lasting relief and prevention from future headaches with fewer side-effects.
A Few Massage Therapy Benefits
A recent study shows that participants who received massage therapy treatments exhibited fewer migraines, in addition to better sleep quality, during the weeks the received the therapy (and the three weeks following) than the control group who didn’t receive the treatment. Additional studies have found even more benefits, like:
- Decreasing the occurrence of headaches, distress symptoms, and sleep disturbances,
- Increasing serotonin levels (which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep), and
- Reducing muscle spasms and trigger points.
Regular massage therapy treatment also allows you to maintain a level of relaxation and stress-relief, reducing your chances for stress-induced migraines.
Can’t Make it to a Massage Therapist?
Unfortunately, for many, massages are a luxury for which we either don’t have the time or money. Luckily, when it comes to easing migraines and headaches, there are a few massage techniques you can use yourself to get some relief:
Manipulate the Temporalis Muscle
Located on the sides of your head, going up from your upper jaw and over the top your ears then back behind them are the temporalis muscles. When these muscles get tight, you get tension headaches or migraines. To massage them away, follow these steps:
- Either sitting or standing, press your index and middle fingertips to the spots above your temple on either side of your head.
- Open and close your jaw several times.
- Move your fingers around to massage wherever you feel discomfort, continuing to open and close your jaw.
Problems with the temporalis muscle have been linked to TMJ as well, so if you’re experiencing chronic pain, you should talk to your doctor.
Massaging the Face and Scalp
Believe it or not, there are quite a few muscles in your face and scalp that you can massage to relieve migraines. These areas include:
- Above each eye, just below the eyebrow, at each socket rim (orbicularis oculi)
- Use your index finger to press on the spot between your eye and eyebrow, on the socket bone. It may feel uncomfortable, but that just means you’ve found the right spot.
- You can also pinch this area between your fingers and squeeze to massage it.
- Above the ends of the mouth (zygomaticus major)
- The area to the left and right of the end of the mouth (buccinator)
- You can work the buccinator and zygomaticus major muscles at the same time.
- With your right thumb on the left side of the inside of your mouth and your right index finger in the same spot on the outside, pinch the skin between your fingers.
- Move your fingers around your cheek to the bottom of your jaw, massaging uncomfortable areas. Repeat on the other side.
- Directly above and slightly to the inside of the eyes and eyebrows (frontalis)
- Using your index and middle fingers, apply pressure to this area above your eyebrows. Massage everywhere you feel discomfort.
- Along the back of your head, in line with the top/mid part of your ears (occipitalis)
- For this area, you can use your index and middle fingers to apply pressure along the back of your head everywhere you feel discomfort.
- Or, lying on the ground looking at the ceiling, use a tennis ball to apply pressure along this area.
If you are looking for the professional massage route, might we recommend HealingRadius? We’ll help you get set up with the perfect massage therapist for you in your area!