Tension Headache Massage
Every thought you think, every worry, every anxiety, every problem, scowl, glower or frown ends up on the poor old head. The web of tiny muscles from the neck takes up the strain, knotting and tightening into a full-blown headache. The best way to take this weight off your shoulders is with a soothing face, neck and scalp massage. Not only does it instantly relieve the tight, tense, aching muscles, but it also relaxes the over-tired, overwrought mind. As you massage away the headache and its source, you also release a lot of stress from the rest of the body and will feel calm, tranquil and deeply relaxed all over. In fact, this simple massage has been known to make even a total workaholic stretch out immediately afterwards for a quiet snooze.
To be effective you need the time for lots of slow, soothing repetitions of all the strokes. The more you do it, the better it feels. However, you can find out exactly where the headache seems worse temples, scalp, eyes, forehead or neck - and spend extra time in this area. If you have persistent, recurrent headaches always seek medical advice, as they may be caused by something other than stress.
How To Massage An Aching Head
The best position is lying on your back, as comfortably as possible, with your head supported on a flat pillow or folded towel. To keep any strain off your lower back and to help you relax while lying face up, place another pillow under your knees so that they are bent. Also, have extra towels or blankets ready for warmth, and wear something that leaves the shoulders bare. A dimly lit or darkened room is very soothing, particularly if you have been in bright light (welding, sunshine, etc.) or flickering light (fluorescent tubes, computer screens, etc.) for several hours beforehand. To keep everything as quiet as possible, take the telephone off the hook, throw pets and children outside, close the door firmly and reach for the oil!
1. Oil your hands well. Place both palms over the upper arm near one shoulder and slowly pull one hand up the neck towards the ears, followed by the other hand, gently stretching the neck muscles. Repeat several times in a smooth, firm stroking movement. Repeat on the other side. Then slide your hands under the top of the back, low between the shoulder blades and, using a very firm stroke, pull up, sliding one hand after the other up to the nape of the neck. Repeat several times.
2. Place your hands under the nape of the neck (between the shoulders and skull) and gently stretch the neck upwards 3-5 cm (1-2 inches) to arch it until you feel resistance. Do not lift the head off the cushion. Hold for a count of five, then gently and slowly release the neck. Repeat, stretching and lowering the neck at the same speed three times without any jerky movements. It is important to support the neck across flat fingertips, so that you do not press inwards.
3. With your fingers and hand cupping the chin, gently pull up the sides of the cheeks, pressing in over the temples until your hands meet above the eyebrows. Pull your palms back, one after the other, in a firm stroke up to the top of the head. Finish by pressing the top and sides of the head between your hands and hold for a count of five. Repeat several times, trying to let all the movements flow in a gentle, soothing, full-face stroke from beginning to end.
4. Keeping your fingers stiff, place the pads of your fingertips on the scalp all around the hairline. Using the lightest inwards pressure, make tiny circles with your fingers in the same position so that you rotate the scalp for a count of ten. The movement is similar to shampooing your hair - but a rubbing, rolling motion rather than scrubbing. Repeat, repositioning your fingers farther back until you end up at the crown. Then repeat round the hairline at the nape of the neck.
5. Now run your fingers through the hair, drawing it away from the head in a soothing stroke, for a minute or more. Take a small section of hair between finger and thumb, and tug it repeatedly and firmly for a count of five. If you hold the hair section as close to the roots as possible this will not hurt. Repeat all over the head - this gives an instant boost to the blood circulation and relaxes the scalp in one go. Finish by pushing in with your hands and squeezing the head all over.
6. Place your fingertips gently over the eyelids and, using the tiniest amount of downward pressure, hold for a count of five, then relax for a count of five. Repeat twice. Stroke from the middle to the outer eyebrows firmly, using the tips of your first two fingers, in a slow, steady movement. Repeat several times. Using the same fingers, make slow circles over the temples so that the skin rotates, then slide them up into the hairline.
7. To release shoulder and neck tension, place one palm over the top of the rounded part of each shoulder. Gently press down to open up the chest, holding the shoulders back for a count of five. Relax and repeat again. Then slide your hands under and push the shoulders upwards and round them into the chest to release the upper back and neck support muscles. Hold for a count of five, relax, then repeat.
8. Finish off with a deeply relaxing, slow stroke. Place your left hand palm down on the forehead and your right hand palm up under the back of the neck. Push inwards gently with both hands as you draw them slowly ups the head until they meet at the crown. The lower hand must gently lift and tilt the head as part of the stroke. Repeat this stroke as many times as you like, getting slower and gentler each time.