Migraines – severe headaches that occur at the front or side of the head – are one of the most common neurological conditions but are no less debilitating. Although not a replacement for medication, massage is extremely effective at helping sufferers manage their migraine attacks. Here are the top benefits…
1. Pain relief
One of the top benefits of massage for migraine sufferers is its ability to offer pain relief. Migraines cause intense pain at the front or side of the head which can last for a few hours or in worst cases a few days. They can also cause discomfort in the face and neck. Stimulating particular areas of the head through massage can help block pain signals from reaching the brain, minimising pain or preventing migraine sufferers from experiencing it altogether. One form of massage that is very effective at this is craniosacral therapy which soothes the nerves and helps lessen the pain waves they send. Trigger point therapy is also beneficial as applying pressure to the correct points can often provide instant relief for the migraine sufferer.
2. Reduces muscle tension
Muscle tension, especially in the shoulder and neck area, can play a significant part in causing migraines. Loosening the muscles through regular massage, particularly the ones attached to the base skull, can not only help relieve tension headaches but also prevent them from recurring as frequently. Poor posture can also be a trigger for migraines especially if you spend the majority of your day slumped over a desk. Massage, especially deep tissue massage, can help work out deep held patterns of the muscles in your body, helping to realign your stance and prevent future migraines.
3. Regulates sleep cycle
In some cases, migraines can be brought on by lack of sleep or too much sleep. Massage is very effective at helping to regulate your sleep cycle as it increases your body’s production of endorphins and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system. By slowing down your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure and encouraging you to relax, massage will help you fall asleep faster, improve your quality of sleep and in turn decrease the likelihood of a migraine.
4. Promotes circulation
Although no longer classified as a vascular headache, poor circulation is one of the contributing factors to a migraine attack. Massage can increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the head by dilating constricted blood vessels, ultimately helping to relieve migraine pain. Regular massage sessions will also improve the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells, helping to reduce the frequency of which migraines occur.
5. Stress and anxiety relief
One of the most acute migraine triggers is stress. Massage is very effective at reducing stress and thus helping to decrease the occurrence of migraines. As well as allowing you to enjoy time out from life’s everyday stresses, regular massage sessions decrease your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase your body’s production of dopamine and serotonin (the happy hormones). Migraine and chronic headache sufferers tend to have low levels of serotonin which drop even lower during an attack. By increasing your serotonin levels, you should not only experience less headaches, but also experience an improved mood and sleep!