“This project is such a headache!”
They’re so common that the term has become synonymous with an annoyance, but what are headaches, really? And can massage therapy really help?
Different types, different causes.Headaches are pretty easily defined, and we all know one when we feel it: it’s a pain in the head. But not all headaches are created equal.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, with pain occurring on both sides of the head without other symptoms. The pain can range from very mild to severe.
Migraine headaches are often pulsing, and can be accompanied by nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and hallucinations. Some people experience migraines only rarely, while other people experience them on an almost daily basis.
Cluster headaches are less common, and are generally experienced as severe pain around one eye. “Cluster periods,” during which many headaches occur during a period of time, are interspersed with longer periods without any symptoms.
Secondary headaches are not conditions themselves, but are symptoms of other conditions. These conditions can be as everyday as a sinus infection or conjunctivitis (pink-eye), or more serious, like traumatic brain injury or meningitis. While the pain from secondary headaches can be managed, it’s important to focus on getting the appropriate medical treatment for the underlying condition.
Headaches and massageThe good:
Tension headaches, the type of headaches people are most likely to experience, seem to respond well to massage therapy. Not only does massage seem to reduce pain in the moment, but regular massage therapy also appears to increase the amount of time between headaches for those who experience them on a chronic basis. This could be a result of helping to manage stress or underlying mechanical issues that can result in headaches, but there’s no solid science yet on precisely why massage helps, only that it does.
More good news! It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that folks who experience regular headaches are also more likely to experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Studies have found that massage can help with these issues not just in the general population, but also specifically in people who live with chronic headaches.
Some people with secondary headaches can also benefit from massage. People with fibromyalgia, for example, who often experience headaches as part of their condition, can experience both pain and stress relief with regular massage therapy. While massage during a flare-up of symptoms may need to be modified to be more gentle, some people find that it can provide relief both for headache as well as for pain throughout the body.
Massage therapy is wonderful and often helpful, but it’s not a cure for headaches. While some people just need a bit of rest or a drink of water (dehydration is a surprisingly common headache cause), other people continue to experience headaches all their lives. While people who experience headaches caused by stress or muscular tension can absolutely benefit from massage, migraines triggered by things like foods or hormonal changes probably won’t see an impact.
There are some times when getting a massage for headaches isn’t just unhelpful, it’s actually dangerous. Most often, this is related to secondary headaches. Fevers, as an example, often cause headaches as well as achy joints that could lead someone to want to receive massage, but this not only risks overly stressing a body that’s already fighting off an infection, it also has the possibility of spreading the illness to the massage therapist and anyone else they come into contact with. Headaches resulting from a recent head, neck, or back injury could also be made worse by a well-meaning massage therapist.
When there is the possibility of pain being caused by an illness or injury, it’s always best to seek out a physician’s opinion first. They can provide or recommend appropriate care for the issue causing the headache in the first place, and at that point you can ask them about whether it would be a good idea to receive a massage. Safe is always better than sorry!
Headaches can be a real, well, headache. But there’s help.Sometimes a little change of environment is all that’s needed. If you have a headache and have been hunched over a computer for hours, try a stretch. A quick walk outside or a brief nap can help with a headache caused by eye strain. If you haven’t eaten or drunk anything all day, do that. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of our lives and forget to take care of our own basic needs.
For those who can take them, over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin can be helpful in treating a headache. Sometimes caffeine is recommended as well. For stronger headaches, medications prescribed by a physician can be a lifesaver to many people, enabling them to function at work and with their families when they might otherwise have been left incapacitated.
And then there’s massage therapy, of course. It’s not a magical cure-all, but for many people, it really does help manage the pain and stress of headaches. Are you one of them? Schedule your next massage, and let’s find out together.
Was simplifying your life part of your New Year's resolutions? If so here are some things you can do this week to make life a little easier.
Deep tissue massage is a focused, therapeutic massage that targets muscle knots (also known as "adhesions") and specific problem areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
This type of massage is particularly beneficial for people with chronic pain or lingering injuries that cause limited mobility. It's effective in treating repetitive stress injuries such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome and can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
If you or someone you love is in pain, a deep tissue massage can help relieve the discomfort.
Do you have to be a hard core athlete to get a sports massage? No. The idea behind sports massage is to manipulate the body's soft tissues, and focus on certain muscle groups depending on which sport someone is playing. This type of massage can help with increased blood flow, increased range of motion, and increased flexibility. Designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility, and enhance athletic performance, sports massage can be used by athletes of all abilities to prepare for or recover from athletic or sports events. Even if you aren't an athlete, sports massage may help muscle pain or restricted range of motion.
How does sports massage differ from a regular massage? In sports massage, the strokes are generally faster than a typical Swedish massage and may also include compression, pressure point therapy, friction, and joint mobilization.
Sitting at a desk for 9 hours or more can wreak havoc on your posture sending your whole body out of whack! Ideally your ears should be in line with your shoulders. If you're leaning too far forward or backward, your posture is off-kilter. Here are some tips that might help,
1. Place a rolled towel between your lower back and your chair. This will help support your lower back and will help bring your shoulders back in line
2. Take frequent movement breaks. Get up, get a drink of water, and stretch your shoulders.
3. While your working be mindful to also lower your shoulders. Are they up around your ears?
4. Look at your desk. Is your body well supported? Is your keyboard too high or your monitor too low? Are you using a chair that is correct for your height?
Use these tips whenever you're sitting at your desk and your neck and shoulders will thank you for it!
Can stretching before going to bed help you sleep better? Many experts agree that it can. Stretching not only makes you more relaxed, but it helps keep your muscles flexible so you're less apt to experience discomfort.
You don't have to devote too much time to stretching. Plan for about 5 minutes of stretching prior to climbing into bed. Many stretches can be performed anywhere. Use these guides to help you establish a regular bedtime stretching routine. https://www.pinterest.com/explore/stretches-before-bed/?lp=true
Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your next massage appointment. This will help you continue to feel relaxed after your massage and make the process of undressing easier prior to your massage.
Wearing many layers with lots of buttons and zippers is probably not the best option. Instead, try your favorite t-shirt with yoga pants or comfortable sweats.
If you are coming straight from work, pack a bag and bring something comfortable to slip into. Struggling back into a suit or uncomfortable shoes after a massage is a quick way to reduce the relaxation benefits of massage.
The importance of sleep and your physical well-being is astronomical. Most of your former bad habits or prolonged issues can be linked to a lack of sleep.
The risk of obesity rises with those with a sleep deficit. A study in teenagers showed with every hour of sleep lost, the risk for obesity rose. But it's not just teenagers, so you can't blame it on the hormones, but wait, yes, you can, sleep affects those too!
A healthy amount of sleep balances the levels of ghrelin, the hormones that make you feel hungry, and leptin, the hormones that make you feel full. If you wake up in the morning starving, blame it on a not so good night sleep. When you're restless the levels of ghrelin increase and the leptin levels decrease. Sleep can also affect insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Higher blood sugar levels can increase the threat of diabetes.
When you sleep your heart and blood vessels are repairing themselves, and sleep releases a hormone to boost muscle mass. Continued unrest increases your risk for a host of issues including, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
The good news is physical activity and your nutrition can aid in a good night's sleep. Activity during the day, not close to bedtime, helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Making sure you don't go to sleep hungry or too full and avoiding alcohol and caffeine eases you into a restful slumber.
Sure, if you’d like to talk go right ahead. The important thing to remember is that this treatment is all about you relaxing and enjoying the experience. Many therapists discourage talking in hopes that you will relax, let your mind float free and enter a state of massage bliss.
In many instances, people may feel more relaxed starting off talking, and as the massage progresses, enter quiet states of relaxation.
The important issue here is that there are times when you need to speak up. If the therapist is doing anything to make you uncomfortable, you should let her/him know immediately. Also, let him/her know if you get too warm or too cold, if the room is too bright, or if the pressure needs to be changed (lighter or deeper). If something is not working for you – speak up! It’s OK!
Short answer: Yes, please.
Long Answer: Yes, please.
Massage is great. You know this. But it’s not always a great idea.
As cold and flu season approaches again, it’s important that you know when it may be necessary to cancel your appointment.
When you are sick, your body needs rest. It’s strange to think about it this way, but receiving massage is an active task, it is not entirely rest. Massage causes change in the body, and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from infection-fighting. That’s no good.
You’re not going to be cozy on the massage table. Sure, it sounds like a warm squishy massage table would be great. But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.
You could get me sick. Since most of the common winter viruses are contagious even before symptoms show up, I could pass the germs along to more clients before I even know it’s happening.
Further, when I get sick, I have to cancel clients and take a few days off work. I work for myself, with no paid sick days to compensate for lost wages. Sure, as a responsible business owner I have a fund for these situations. But I would rather use that fund for a jet ski or a fancy new oil holster. So I’m gonna try to stay germ-free this winter.
So it’s a deal. You’ll cancel so as not to infect me and my massage room, and I’ll do the same for you. We’ll keep each other safe.
When to cancel
If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the past 24 hours, or are still feeling under the weather from a recent bout of such things.
If you’ve had a fever in the past 24 hours, or fever-related symptoms. This includes chills, aches, and fatigue. Even if you’re keeping the fever down with medicine, you’re still sick. The fever counts.
If you are itchy, runny, and/or sneezy, and you’re not 100% certain it’s seasonal allergies..
If you are coughing constantly, or just a lot.
If someone in your household is ill and you are feeling at all funky, please cancel.
There is often some gray area here, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection. If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me before your appointment and we can make a decision together.