There is a certainly a time and place for consuming pain-relieving drugs to alleviate headaches quickly and easily. And then there are times when it is wiser to allow for a different, more involved choice; one that travels deeper than just the superficial symptoms. What greater way to give respect to the intelligence of our bodies than to explore and to discover what messages our bodies are really relaying? Especially when these pains reoccur, or are without a doubt, brought on by an imbalance in our lives causing chronic tension and stress.

Do any of these conditions apply to you? Emotional turmoil – Fast Paced Living – Overworking – Overplaying – Poor quality sleep – Social pressures – Repetitive motions discomfort – Poor diet – Chronic dehydration – Neglect in self-care department – Not enough healthy quality touch – Not enough exercise ???

Let’s admit here that, the longer tension and stress are present in our bodies, the more it requires outside support to help relieve it. With support, we are again not discussing band-aids or chemical blocks that mask pain. In extreme cases, consulting with a medical professional is necessary for precise diagnosis. However, in most day-to-day cases, our bodies (or rather our sub-conscious minds) are sending messages, in the form of pain, requesting for us to pause, and take some time to release accumulated tension from the nervous and muscular system. It’s when this occurs that bodywork can be of most benefit, unparalleled to any pill.

Let’s briefly explore how bodywork can help…

Massage is one of the most effective ways to alleviate the debilitating effects of headaches. By releasing built up tension and restoring circulation to the brain, massage has the potential to end both the occasional and the recurring pain cycle with long-lasting results. A skilled therapist will thoroughly release adhesions (muscles and nerves that are bound together with restricted flexibility and circulation) in the jaw, face, head, entire neck, and shoulders, giving rise to an open clear mind. It is remarkable how creating space in the tissues can completely alter one’s sense of well-being and ability to attend to life’s demands in a more grounded balanced way.

Acupuncture has been helping headache sufferers for thousands of years. Modern-day Acupuncturists learn a variety of strategies and techniques for effectively helping people with migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches, as well as other imbalances such by sinus infection, allergies, hormonal imbalances or high blood pressure. It can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. It works by unblocking ‘qi, or energy that runs through channels, or ‘meridians’ in the body. Far from hurting, acupuncture causes a deep relaxation effect on the sympathetic nervous system. Patients often fall asleep on the treatment table!

Reflexology may be indicated when experiencing headaches, especially if the idea of having your head touched seems unbearable. There are corresponding areas on the hands and feet (“reflexes”) that Reflexologists are able to ‘work’, that can affect the head without needing to actually touch it. If your headache is caused by stress, sinus pressure, or allergies; a knowledgeable Reflexologists can benefit you greatly. By working specific points, reflexology is able to stimulate your sinuses and release pressure without actually having to go inside your nose. By breaking up the crackles in your toes, tension in the neck can we be release. It seems unrelated, mysterious, unbelievable even. Yet it really can help!

Bodywork not only alleviates pain by removing blockages but also stimulates the release of endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters. Healthy touch with all its healing abilities often leaves you feeling happier, more peaceful, relaxed, content, calmer, more connected and vibrant among many other blissful sensations.

Essential Oils are also great to keep on hand when a headache manifests. Massaging them into the neck, shoulders, earlobes, temples and cranky muscles increase circulation – decreases muscle spasms – cool down the inflammation that may be part of the issue with the headaches. Inhalation of certain oils can open the sinuses and induce a sense of calm and clarity. Essential Oils such as Peppermint, Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Myrtle, Ravensara, and Frankincense are beneficial remedies for headaches.

If you suffer from recurring headaches or other similar symptoms, before going for the quick fix, consider exploring what the real underlying cause of the emerging pain is. Seek a qualified holistic practitioner to see if one or more of these treatments is a better long-term approach for you. My experience has been that bodywork is safe, effective and has lasting results for many sufferers of pain.

Most importantly, rather than your seeing your pain as something to avoid and resist, see if you can perceive the pain for what it is – a message. Ask the pain what advice it has for you today. More than likely, it asks of you to slow down and fill up your cup.

Cheers to embodied living!