One of my greatest joys as a massage therapist is helping people reduce or eliminate pain through a body-mind-spirit approach. When a client tells me that she hasn’t had any headaches since her two appointment two weeks ago, I get excited. When she tells me that it’s very rare for her to go that long without a migraine, let alone a “regular” headache, I’m practically jumping for joy.
Lately I’m seeing more and more clients for headache relief, many of whom have tried all sorts of medications, various therapies, or dietary changes. This particularly client is getting Botox injections, which help but don’t eliminate her pain, and wear off weeks before her insurance company is willing to pay for the next round. Massage seems to be bridging that gap without contributing any unwanted side effects.
The best part of this story is that I’m using good ole-fashioned Swedish massage. No fancy techniques. No deep tissue. No discomfort whatsoever during a session. My goal is to activate the relaxation response, in which the body’s internal feel-good pharmacy gets triggered. Digestion and nutrient assimilation are enhanced, the immune and lymphatic systems are supported, the cardiovascular system calms, and the endocrine system is supported.
Swedish massage manually promotes the relaxation of muscles and encourages circulation and the elimination of cellular waste and toxins. It’s rather like wringing out a dirty sponge, then running it under fresh hot water. As the body adjusts to its new, less-constricted state, internal mechanisms are nudged to promote balance from within. The combination of the relaxation response and the manual “wringing out” therapy is a two-pronged strategy for reducing headaches.
Many of my clients are able to reduce frequency, duration, and/or intensity of chronic headaches with one or two massages each month. For them bodywork is a form of alternative care which prevents them from seeking medical intervention. Many others are less than satisfied with the results of their medical intervention, and get great relief from massage as a complementary therapy.
You don’t need to give up modern medicine to enjoy the benefits of massage. It might just be the key that allows you to celebrate a fortnight free of headaches. And a fortnight after that. And another and another. Why not give it a try?