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How Does Massage Therapy Alleviate Headaches?

How Does Massage Therapy Alleviate Headaches

Medications are typically the first line of defense and treatment for migraines, but some research suggests massage therapy may be helpful for those who suffer from the condition. That’s fantastic news for everyone who has experienced adverse reactions to migraine medication.

If you are experiencing pain, please do not discontinue taking your medicine without consulting your doctor. Since this is the case, massage therapy is not recommended by the American Headache Society, an organization of doctors specializing in relieving headaches and facial pain.

Nonetheless, there has been promising progress in finding a cure for migraines. Massage therapy has long been linked to a reduction in migraine symptoms, and numerous studies have supported this claim, albeit of modest size. In addition, a mountain of high-quality evidence shows that massage therapy can help with things like stress and sleep disturbances, which are primary migraine triggers.

Can You Massage Your Headache Away?

We’re all aware of massage’s stress-relieving properties, but does it also work for relieving migraines and other headaches?

Dehydration, hormonal imbalances, tension, and even significant neurological problems can manifest as headaches. Tense muscles in the jaw, temples, neck, or shoulders are the most typical triggers of headaches, and massage can be a terrific way to alleviate this pain and restore your health.

But how exactly does massage help alleviate headache pain? In a nutshell, it does this by relaxing your neck and head muscles. By encouraging the relaxation of these muscles, we can lessen the pain and radiating aches caused by the tension that has built up due to chronic stress.

Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches—which cause extreme pain on one side of the head, typically in the eye area—all respond well to slow, firm, and calming approaches. If you already have a headache, any light or stimulation will only worsen things.

What Science Has To Say

Migraine sufferers have long been advised to try massage therapy. Members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) can take a seminar on migraines and massage therapy to expand their professional knowledge. Certain highly regarded medical professionals recommend massage therapy to treat migraines.

Several studies have shown that massage therapy has positive effects on migraines. Here are some of them:

Reduces Pain

Twenty-six migraine sufferers were split evenly between two groups in the United States. The non-intervention group received no treatment, while the massage group had two massages each week for five weeks. The massage group reported much better results.

  • Minimal Migraine Discomfort
  • Days with no headaches increasing
  • Sleeping more soundly
  • Increased amounts of serotonin, the “happy hormone.”

Reduces Chronic Migraine

The use of massage therapy to treat migraines and insomnia has shown promising results. For their 13-week study, New Zealand researchers randomly assigned patients to either a control or massage group. Both groups completed regular health and lifestyle surveys. Massage therapy was provided weekly to the massage group from weeks 5-10.

The positive effects persisted even after the massages were discontinued for the final three weeks of the trial. When compared with the control group, those who received massages reported:

  • Headaches will not occur as often.
  • Better ability to regulate stress and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol 
  • Lower levels of anxiety and heart rate
  • Significantly better quality of sleep

Massage Therapy May Even Prevent Migraines

Migraine sufferers can also benefit from manual therapies besides massage. The preventative effects of massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic spinal manipulation were analyzed in one review. According to the available evidence, three manual methods appear to be as effective as two commonly used drugs for preventing migraines.

Other Benefits Of Head Massage

Massage is a terrific non-pharmaceutical option for relieving headaches, and there are many other benefits to getting your head massaged. Here are some benefits of head massages:

Relieves Stress

Tense facial, neck, and head muscles can constrict surrounding tissues and, in turn, pain and discomfort in the form of headaches. Tight muscles can be relieved and more strain avoided by massaging the temples, jaw, and neck.

She claims that a gentle, forceful head massage helps relieve stress and tension in the body, in addition to its apparent effects on tense muscles. When this happens, our parasympathetic nervous system takes over and helps us relax.

Boosts Your Mood

Even though the techniques are primarily aimed at the head, they can also benefit the whole body by increasing circulation there, which helps to calm the individual who is having the headache.

A massage on the head has a calming impact on the entire body, enhancing the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

Reduces Feel Good Hormones

High blood pressure is a crucial risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses; massage may assist in reducing this risk. This is partly due to the calming effect massage has on the sympathetic nervous system, activated during times of perceived threat or stress.

When you get a massage, your body unleashes endorphins, which relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure, reducing the strain on your heart and slowing your heart rate.

There isn’t a ton of data on the effects of head massages on blood pressure, but one study revealed that massages lasting 15 or 25 minutes lowered blood pressure in women.

What You Get From A Professional Head Massage

You may expect a profoundly relaxing experience from a trained cranial-sacral massage therapist. The massage therapist will spend most of your session gently stroking your entire head and neck. Your healthcare provider has mentioned that they may also attempt to restore the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system by gently manipulating the bones of your skull and spine.

With a more regular flow, that fluid will help increase your body’s natural ability to mend itself. A typical massage session with a professional lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. The massage therapist and client will maintain open lines of communication during the session.


A stress-busting and muscle-easing head massage could be just what you need. Along with those benefits, it may help reduce blood pressure, increase circulation to the head and neck, and stimulate hair growth. Consider making an appointment at Evolution Health and Wellness to try massage therapy for your headaches. Our services can be modified to meet your specific requirements.


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