Tension headaches can last for days or hours and may be associated with neck stiffness and tightness through the shoulders and upper back. The majority of people suffering from tension headaches are women and they do not recognise the tightness until it is relieved.
Massage to the neck, jaw, scalp and upper back and even feet can bring relief. Follow this up with a relaxation massage in a few days to compete the treatment.
Massage is thought to relieve pain by releasing the chemical serotonin. Serotonin and migraines are believed to be related. Massage may also block pain signals sent to the brain, which can help prevent migraines. A randomised control trial undertaken in 2006 and published in the Ann Behav Med. 2006 Aug;32(1):50-9 (Lawler SP1, Cameron LD) showed decrease in frequency of migraines and improved sleep with regular massage.
The other main factor in headaches can be the condition of the cervical spine. Arthritis, trauma, nerve compression and factors affecting the mobility of the cervical spine can all contribute to the headache. For this type of headache massage can help by reducing the tension of the muscles of the neck, head and upper back. Certain techniques are used to improve the mobility of the neck and reduce pressure over nerves at the top of the cervical spine.
Of course some headaches result from a combination of all these factors.