One of the most common types of headaches that I see in my office is what’s referred to as a tension headache. Symptoms range from a mild to moderate pain in the head that feels like there’s tight vice strapped around your noggin.
Mountains of stress coupled with bad forward head posture can easily trigger a tension headache.
Taking over the counter pain killers can sometimes stop a headache in it’s tracks, but more often than not, it will come back.
Trigger Points (TPs) are tight, contracted bands in the muscles that are both ischemic (when the blood and oxygen supply to the muscle is cut off) and hyper-irritable, referring pain and tingling to other places in the body.
I’m going to cover 3 unyielding trigger points that are guilty of causing tension headaches.
Trigger Point#1: The Suboccipitals
The suboccipitals are made up of 4 tiny muscles in the base of your skull that help tilt the head into extension and assist in performing other fine motor head movements.
When a person looks down at their smartphone all day long or sits hunched over their computer for hours at a time, the tension in their suboccipitals increases. This chronic shortening of the suboccipitals most likely will lead to trigger points.
Trigger points in the suboccipitals interestingly enough have a pain referral pattern that resembles a band around the head.
Trigger Point #2: The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
One of the largest and most superficial cervical muscles, the sternocleidomastoid helps you rotate your head, flex your neck and and helps to bring up your thoracic cage and clavicles, so your lungs have enough space to expand.
When a person assumes a forward head posture, their SCM flexes and shortens. Over time, this adaptive shortening can cause trigger points to form leading to pain in the forehead, sinus, ear and back of the head areas.
Trigger Point #3: Upper Trapezius (Traps)
The trapezius muscle is a large kite-shaped muscle whose upper fibers bring the shoulders up and extend the neck. Chronic slouching can cause tension and knots to build up in the upper traps leading to fearsome trigger points.
Trigger points in the upper traps commonly refer pain to the back of the neck near the occiput, the back of the ear, the temple and the back of the eye.
Deep Tissue Massage To The Rescue!
Deep Tissue Massage can bring great relief for tension headache sufferers. How’s that work, you ask? Well, the stretching and kneading of massage helps to soften and lengthen the tight, contracted muscles that are causing the headache pain. Static pressure on those specific trigger points helps to dissipate the knots and increase blood and oxygen flow to the ischemic muscles.
Fast forward 30-60 minutes and those stubborn knots are less painful and have shrunk down to the size of Lilliputians, just not as cute. When the knots go away, you can say good bye to that tension headache pain.
Don’t have time to schedule a massage, that’s fine, check out Press Here! 6 Potent Points For Headache Relief.
If you’re the Do-It-Yourself type, then here are my top trigger point tools to crush those stubborn knots in your neck and shoulders.
I have been going to Morgan for a massage for several years now, generally for tightness in the neck and shoulders. Morgan uses several techniques for getting all the tight knots out. He is the best and I do not think about going elsewhere since I started.
- Laima Kazakaitis