Tension Headaches

74% of Americans suffer headaches caused by tension. Are you one of them?

Most people have experienced a headache at one time or another. Most Americans, around 90%, have occasional headaches. 74% of those are caused by tension. Massage therapists see tension headaches often, so here are a few self-care tips to help you relieve some of the stress that causes these headaches.

5 steps to help relieve a headache

  1. Neck & Shoulder Rotations – Start by looking over each shoulder. Slowly. Relax your shoulders and straighten your spine so your chest is open. SLOWLY turn your head to look over your left ear. SLOWLY move to look over your right ear. Do this 3-5 times slowly. Now rotate your head so that your chin moves in a circle towards your chest, from side to side. Do this 4-5 times.Take a deep breath to relax your shoulders. Now move your shoulders in circles, forward and backward. 5, 10 to 15 times feels great. This gets the blood moving and the muscles start to loosen. Now shake them out a little bit.
  2. Massage Your Neck – Take one hand, with fingers together, and make a “C.” Put this “C” on your neck vertically. Now move your fingers. You can squeeze, push, shake, push, or pull. Whatever feels good at the time. Massage each side of the neck for a bit. 1-3 minutes should be helpful.
  3. Pressure points – At the base of your skull there are two indentations on the side of neck. These are a great place to apply pressure to relieve headaches. Once you’ve found these indentations take one thumb and push into one side. Hold for about 10 seconds. You may push lightly or you could push very hard, whichever feels best at the time. Push 3 times on each side.
  4. Face Massage – Take your fingertips and rub circles into your forehead. 30 seconds to a minute feels good. Rub gentle circles at the temples for as long as you like. Rub your eyebrows. You can apply direct pressure to your brows and cheekbones. These areas can use a little more pressure. Now rub big circles on your cheeks. Increase your pressure, or lighten up a bit. Do what feels good to you.
  5. Get a professional massage occasionally – Your massage therapist can help break the cycle of recurring tension headaches, and teach you a few more tricks to stay pain-free between visits!

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Some headaches may be a sign of a more serious illness. Anyone who has these danger signs should seek medical help immediately:

  • Your headaches are severe enough to interfere with daily activities
  • Your headache comes on suddenly and is explosive or violent
  • You would describe your headache as “your worst ever,” even if you regularly get headaches
  • You also have slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss with your headache
  • Your headache gets worse over a 24-hour period
  • You also have a fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting with your headache
  • Your headache occurs with/after a head injury
  • Your headache is severe and just in one eye, with redness in that eye
  • You are over age 50 and your headaches just began, especially if you also have vision problems and pain while chewing
  • You have cancer and develop a new headache