Tension headaches are often times ignored by sufferers experiencing them. Whether it’s because they have accepted them as a regular annoyance or that they’re unaware how easily they can be treated, tension headaches are one of the most common discomforts that people suffer from on a daily basis.
Tense or strained suboccipital muscles are what generally cause tension headaches. These muscles are found under the back of the skull and when tense can cause pain almost anywhere in the neck or head but usually sufferers experience pain in their temples, side of the head, forehead, or behind the ears.
The suboccipital muscles are very important to us! They are what keep the head balanced on top of the spine and attached to the body. It’s no wonder they get tense with everyday activity and work routines!
Massage therapy that is focused the suboccipital muscles and surrounding muscles is one of the most raved about treatments. This treatment not only relieves the tension headaches but also helps the patient eliminate the other symptoms that come with tension headaches such as neck pain, lightheadedness, and nausea. These annoying pains can easily be treated through massage therapy by focusing on the trigger points in your neck that are likely causing the headaches to occur.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of tension headaches such as migraines, headaches (in the forehead, temples, sides, or behind the ears), or neck pain it is important that you see a massage therapist who is able to treat the problem specifically and in-between appointments to practice the following techniques at home:
- Give your head a break: The majority of people work at a desk, which can cause you to experience neck tension, headaches, and eye fatigue without knowing it. To release the tensions that arise from working at a desk, rest your eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and take a screen break from your computer for 5 minutes every hour. For more desk tips check out Dr. Steve’s posture at the computer page.
- Give yourself a mini massage: To relieve the tension headache through a mini massage at home, use your hands to focus on massaging behind your skull to release the strain in your suboccipital muscles (which is likely causing the tension headache to start with).
- Apply cold and heat: This is how we treat all other sore muscles and it’s no different for tension headaches! The cold will help with inflamed muscles and the heat will help relax the knotted muscles.
- Stretch: To keep neck muscles relaxed throughout daily activities it’s important to do regular neck stretches specifically to loosen the suboccipital muscles. Check out our stretches and strength exercises page for suggestions.