If you suffer from terrible migraines, you are not alone. Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world affecting an incredible 1 billion people worldwide!
Migraine is a neurological condition that can be episodic or chronic. It usually starts with a severe throbbing in the neck or at the side of the head, a searing pain that can shoot straight up into your skull. Often it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, tingling in the extremities, and hypersensitivity of the senses. Attacks can last between 4 to 72 hours.
What does a migraine feel like?
I am lucky enough to never have to suffer from a migraine. And unless you have, you will never know exactly how debilitating, disorientating and downright vomit-inducing it can be. Descriptions such as these can give you an idea:
“Like a vice around my head, with stabbing behind my ears and pressure behind my eyes. Pull the shades, lie down, don’t move.”
“It’s like having your head compressed by a two-ton brick while someone hits your temple with a hammer at random intervals.”
During an attack, you most likely do not want anyone to touch you or even come near you. You just want to take a prescribed painkiller, and ride it out in a dark room. Are you tired of this routine, and looking for a more effective pain-relief solution?
Relieve migraine with massage therapy
When you’re coming out of an attack, getting a massage can help to relieve the pain immensely. Massage has been proven to help reduce muscle spasms, improve circulation, relieve tension and vascular headache pain, and promote relaxation. In fact, a twice-weekly 30-minute massage has proven to be effective against migraine attacks in a study conducted over 5 weeks.
Deep tissue massage can help to ease through any areas of muscle or fascia that have become tight and restricted as a result of the migraine pain. These are the spots that a well-trained and experience massage therapist will focus on:
1. Neck and Shoulders
The neck and shoulders are the most common areas of tension. Migraines can cause these areas to become tight and rigid, and as such would benefit from deep, slow strokes. Even by simply lifting the weight of the head for a few minutes, the muscles in the neck are given enormous relief.
2. Head and Skull
Tension is also often felt in the jaw and temples. A face massage should never be underestimated for the relaxation it can bring. The 43 muscles in the face can become extremely tense and contorted during an attack, and the numerous pressure points in the skull mean that a gentle ‘hair wash’ approach on the skull can feel like heaven.
3. Hands and Feet
As they are less directly related to areas where migraines are felt, massaging hands and feet can be an extremely effective and accessible area to treat when a sufferer is feeling unwell.
D.I.Y. Massage for Migraine Relief
If you are feeling the onset of a migraine, a D.I.Y. massage on these 4 pressure points will help to relieve the pressure in your head. Press a finger down firmly on each of these points for a few seconds, and release slowly:
2. Between your eyebrows
1. Base of your skull
4. Between your big toe and second toe (at the top of your foot)
3. Between your thumb and index finger
The right massage therapist will be able to work out the what, where, and how to massage in order to relieve your migraine symptoms. One person’s migraine symptoms might differ from another, so there is more than one prescribed pattern for treatment. I recommend having a massage soon after your attack has subsided, and also schedule regular inter-migraine massages to prevent further attacks. Don’t wait until the next horror!
About the author
Lynsey Keyes is a UK trained massage therapist and certified in both ITEC and BTEC level 4 Massage and Anatomy and Physiology. Having spent 15 years working in high-pressure marketing roles, Lynsey embraced her ultimate passion in bodywork and uses her experience to help people overcome the physical and mental stresses of modern life.
She is a passionate believer that massage should be a part of our everyday lives to support our bodies in whatever challenge we put upon them; whether you are a professional sports person, have a sore back from carrying your baby, or simply need to release some tension from a day in the office.