Research has shown that in relation to tension headaches, massage may decrease perceived pain, decrease tension, decrease medication usage and reduce duration, frequency and intensity (4)(5). In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life. Massage’s main effect on headaches is not just pain relief but it may also treat the underlying trigger for the headache. Moderate pressure massage has shown to reduce depression, anxiety and heart rate(3). It has also been shown that it may increase vagal activity leading to a state of relaxation thus providing stress relief (3). Studies using magnetic resonance imaging show massage was represented in several areas of the brain involved in stress and emotion regulation.(3). Massage may help to relieve muscle tightness that is contributing to the headaches.
Massage may be used for both treatment of the acute headache phase but may also be used as a prevention method by helping reduce stress and improving overall well-being.
by Ben Hewitt
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