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Self-massage for tension headache relief

This month I’m sharing some tips for how you can use massage at home to help relieve headaches.


According to the NHS website, the common causes for headaches are:

  • Having a cold or flu

  • Stress

  • Drinking too much alcohol

  • Bad posture

  • Eyesight problems

  • Not eating regular meals

  • Not drinking enough fluids (dehydration)

  • Taking too many painkillers

  • Having your period or during menopause


Many people I see suffer from tension headaches. These can feel like pain on both sides of your head, face or neck, feeling like something is pressing on your head or being tightened around it, or the affected area may feel tender and your head may hurt more when touched. Tight muscles in the neck and shoulders can contribute to these headaches as can stress and poor posture.


Massage can help relieve the tension and pain of tension headaches. While going for a professional massage is the most effective way, there are techniques you can use at home between appointments.


Here are some for you to try:


Facial Massage techniques

  • Place your fingertips in a line down the centre of your forehead, 4 each side. Smooth out to your temples, 3 times.

  • Place your middle fingers at the centre of each eyebrow and massage in small circles out to the edge of the brow. Repeat 3 times.

  • Starting again at the centre of each eyebrow, smooth a circle with your finger along the length of the eyebrow, and follow the eye socket back to the nose. Repeat 3 times.

  • Close your eyes and place your fingers flat across your eyes. Smooth out in one movement to your temples. Lift your hand and repeat twice more.


Scalp Massage Techniques

  • "Dry shampooing" Place your finger and thumb tips on your scalp and massage as if you were washing your hair. Use your thumbs to massage the suboccipital muscles around the base of your skull.

  • "Tapotement" as if you were playing the piano, lightly drum your fingers across your scalp.

  • "Flicking" Using your thumb and middle finger, gently flick across your scalp.

Neck Massage Techniques

  • To locate your Sternocleidomastoid muscles (SCM) on each side of your neck, simply turn your head to one side and feel along the opposite side of your neck. The SCM will be sticking out. Place your hand in a pincer position along the muscle, and then rotate your head back to centre. This will relax the muscle. Repeat to the other side to locate the muscle. Then you can gently squeeze and massage the muscle with both sides, up and down. This can help to relieve headaches near the eyes and the temples.

  • Place your right hand over the left side of your head and pull gently towards the right until you feel the pull. Hold there for at least 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat on the other side.

  • Place one hand towards the back of your head and pull forward until your chin is tucked in. Hold there for at least 10 seconds before releasing.

  • Look up to the ceiling with your shoulders dropped down and your chin stretched upwards. Hold there for at least 10 seconds before releasing.

Trapezius Massage

  • Your trapezius muscles spread in a triangular shape from each shoulder down to a point on your lower spine. We often get knots along the edge of the trapezius. You can gather the muscle at the base of the neck on either side and massage it with your fingers. To reach points further down, you may need a massage cane or a friend! Tightness and knots in our trapezium can cause headaches behind our ears and temples.



Let me know how you get on! If you would like to know more, do book in for a massage and I can demonstrate the techniques for you in person.











References: NHS Website, Asheville Medical Massage Website.



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