Suffering From Tension Headaches? How Massage Therapy Can Help.


Chronic Tension Type Headaches, otherwise known as ‘tension headaches’, can be caused by tight muscles of the neck and can be significantly reduced with Massage Therapy. However, tension headaches are often misdiagnosed and the causes of them, not always recognised.

Myofascial Trigger Points (TrPs) are painful, hyper-irritable areas in the muscles which develop when masticatory muscles and muscles of the neck are repetitively stressed.

Once these painful TrPs are activated, the muscles become tender and weak and cannot lengthen to their full potential. This in turn results in headaches which are commonly and mistakenly diagnosed as Tension Headaches. However, what is more often causing the headache is in fact the TrP referral pattern. TrPs can be found in many different areas of the head and neck and can be caused by several different circumstances.

The possible causes and perpetuating factors of the hyper-irritable spot in the muscle are habitual poor posture (i.e.: rounded shoulders and head-forward), poor biomechanics at work, awkward sleep patterns, activity or sport related injury, sustained muscle contraction (i.e.: painting a ceiling), cervical spine joint restrictions, just to name a few.

Registered Massage Therapists will differentiate between joint associated dysfunction pain headaches and those that are muscle related. Of course, both can co-exist and therefore, both must be treated accordingly.

The massage techniques used are safe and effective. Muscle Energy Techniques, for example, use antagonistic muscle contraction to inhibit the firing of the opposite muscles, which in turn will help lengthen the muscles or gently urge a restricted joint to open up. They can correct an existing cervical spine restriction but also have an element of muscle re-education, which helps to prevent reoccurrence.

For long lasting relief, Massage Therapy is an effective prevention method, as well as being part of the important maintenance program for managing stress related tension headaches.


Blog Post By Karri Jensen, RMT


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