Migraine solutions: can massage ease migraine pain?
Many migraine sufferers are finding relief and prevention in different massage therapy techniques.
If you suffer from migraines, you know all too well the time lost to pain, nausea, photosensitivity, and a general unwell feeling. Prescription medicines can halt a migraine in its path, particularly when taken at the first hit of onset; avoiding triggers, which can include anything from caffeine to chocolate to alcohol to wheat or dairy, also helps those afflicted by migraines to avoid illness as often as possible. However, many people today choose to pursue alternative medicine to help ameliorate and prevent migraines. Massage has proven itself a powerful alternative to traditional medications in the field of migraine prevention.
There are several different techniques of massage that have been shown to help migraine sufferers combat their illness. Different styles work - or don't work -- for different people, and most sufferers combine massage therapy with traditional therapies to reap the best results. Depending on the type and frequency of your migraines, one or more of the following massage techniques could prove helpful to you.
Deep-tissue massage, perhaps the most well-known technique, relaxes the muscles in the body through pressure and stretching. A massage therapist focuses on areas of the body that carry tension and feel tight or uncomfortable, and uses deepening pressure to release the tension and give an overall feeling of relaxation and loosening of stiff muscles. If your migraines result from tension carried in a certain part of the body (usually the neck and shoulders), deep-tissue massage that relaxes those areas can provide a palliative measure.
Neuromuscular massage is a close cousin of deep-tissue massage. In this technique, the therapist applies moderate to deep pressure to the body's "trigger points" - specific areas within a muscle that often feel painful to the touch when pressed. The idea behind trigger-point therapy is that it will release nerve compression (compressed nerves being the reason that the trigger points ache when touched), and that the relaxed nerves in turn will help the body to release tension.
The next technique to consider is craniosacral therapy, wherein the pressure applied by the therapist is focused on the skull and scalp. By soothing the nerve endings through massage, the therapist encourages them to relax and to stop sending such powerful waves of pain.
If craniosacral massage does not help your migraines, you might try moving downwards to the feet for reflexology. Reflexology concentrates on pressure points on the soles of the foot. According to the practice, the foot is divided into that relate to different areas of the body; by stimulating those points on the feet, the therapist aims to relax muscles that carry a lot of stress or tension. Because it involves applying pressure to the feet, several people have found that they can learn and practice a version of the therapy on themselves, thus making it more affordable and more available as a prevention tool at the onset of migraine pain.
Lastly, you might choose to consider acupressure and its close relation, acupuncture. Acupressure, like reflexology can be learned and practiced by the migraine sufferer. The technique involves applying pressure with the fingertips to specific points on the head and neck or the hands; the idea is that applying pressure, then releasing it, in a certain rhythm will relax the specific nerves responsible for transmitting migraine pain. If you find relief from acupressure, you may choose to seek out a licensed acupuncture practitioner. Acupuncture therapists attempt to release the body's tension by painlessly inserting fine needles into the pressure points all over the body. While acupressure and acupuncture are not to be confused, they have both arisen from the Eastern concept of qi, or energy, that courses through the body and can become blocked at those nerve endings, or pressure points. Releasing the qi to flow freely again relieves the pressure and pain of many ailments, including, for some, migraine.
If you do choose to pursue a form of massage to seek relief from migraines, you should check with your doctor to ensure the safety of your choice. Always find a licensed practitioner. While acupressure and reflexology can be learned from the numerous books on the subject, you should always find certified therapists for any technique that allows someone else to manipulate your body in any way. Some massage therapists even accept insurance, so check with your insurance carrier to see if massage can be covered under an alternative medicine policy. Most of all, keep your mind open; if one technique does not work for you, another might. Do your research, take care, and be well!