May 18, 2022

Tension Headaches

Will Ireland

Tension Headaches & Massage

What are they?

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, typically caused by muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Unlike other forms of headaches, tension headaches do not cause nausea, vomiting, or light sensitivity. The pain tends to be steady instead of throbbing, and affects both sides of the heads. The tends to be mild to moderate, but not severe, and feels like a dull brace or vice is wrapped around the head. Tension headaches may be chronic due to repetitive stress, poor posture, and/or overuse.


Tension headaches can be managed through lifestyle modifications, including regular sleep, exercise, and meal schedules. Practices that promote relaxation and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system will be very beneficial for tension headaches, including yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, etc.


Massage and Tension headaches

One of the best ways to relieve pain from tension headaches is to get a regular massage. Massage can offer tremendous relief on the muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders, including:

  • Trapezius – the most superficial muscle of the upper back, shaped like a kite, from the base of the skull down to the mid-back, and to the sides at the top of the shoulder and scapula


  • Levator scapula – attaches the scapula to the base of the skull


  • Rhomboids – deep back muscles that attach to the scapulas to the spine


  • Supraspinatus – muscle that sits on top of the shoulder that elevates the arm


  • Occipitofrontalis – the base of the skull, the scalp, and the forehead


  • Splenius capitis – deep neck muscle, attaches to the bottom sides of the skull and attaches to the cervical spine


  • Erector spinae group – long back mucles that attach the lower back to the ribs and the skull

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