Can Massage Help with Headaches? 😖

Can Massage Help with Headaches?

“This project is such a headache!”

They’re so common that the term has become synonymous with an annoyance, but what are headaches, really? And can massage therapy really help?

Different types, different causes.

Headaches are pretty easily defined, and we all know one when we feel it: it’s a pain in the head. But not all headaches are created equal.


Tension headaches
are the most common type of headache, with pain occurring on both sides of the head without other symptoms. The pain can range from very mild to severe.

Migraine headaches are often pulsing, and can be accompanied by nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and hallucinations. Some people experience migraines only rarely, while other people experience them on an almost daily basis.

Cluster headaches are less common, and are generally experienced as severe pain around one eye. “Cluster periods,” during which many headaches occur during a period of time, are interspersed with longer periods without any symptoms.

Secondary headaches are not conditions themselves, but are symptoms of other conditions. These conditions can be as everyday as a sinus infection or conjunctivitis (pink-eye), or more serious, like traumatic brain injury or meningitis. While the pain from secondary headaches can be managed, it’s important to focus on getting the appropriate medical treatment for the underlying condition.

Headaches and massage

The good: 
Tension headaches, the type of headaches people are most likely to experience, seem to respond well to massage therapy. Not only does massage seem to reduce pain in the moment, but regular massage therapy also appears to increase the amount of time between headaches for those who experience them on a chronic basis. This could be a result of helping to manage stress or underlying mechanical issues that can result in headaches, but there’s no solid science yet on precisely why massage helps, only that it does.

More good news! It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that folks who experience regular headaches are also more likely to experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Studies have found that massage can help with these issues not just in the general population, but also specifically in people who live with chronic headaches.

Some people with secondary headaches can also benefit from massage. People with fibromyalgia, for example, who often experience headaches as part of their condition, can experience both pain and stress relief with regular massage therapy. While massage during a flare-up of symptoms may need to be modified to be more gentle, some people find that it can provide relief both for headache as well as for pain throughout the body.

The bad: 
Massage therapy is wonderful and often helpful, but it’s not a cure for headaches. While some people just need a bit of rest or a drink of water (dehydration is a surprisingly common headache cause), other people continue to experience headaches all their lives. While people who experience headaches caused by stress or muscular tension can absolutely benefit from massage, migraines triggered by things like foods or hormonal changes probably won’t see an impact.

Headaches can be a real, well, headache. But there’s help.

Sometimes a little change of environment is all that’s needed. If you have a headache and have been hunched over a computer for hours, try a stretch. A quick walk outside or a brief nap can help with a headache caused by eye strain. If you haven’t eaten or drunk anything all day, do that. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of our lives and forget to take care of our own basic needs.

For those who can take them, over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin can be helpful in treating a headache. Sometimes caffeine is recommended as well. For stronger headaches, medications prescribed by a physician can be a lifesaver to many people, enabling them to function at work and with their families when they might otherwise have been left incapacitated.

And then there’s massage therapy, of course. It’s not a magical cure-all, but for many people, it really does help manage the pain and stress of headaches. Are you one of them? Schedule your next massage, and let’s find out together.

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis 👠👠👠

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis

How to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis with Massage and Stretching
You swing your feet over the side of the bed, stand up, and ouch!
What is that pain in your heel that’s got you holding one foot while hopping up and down on the other? You gingerly step down again and you can still feel it, a sharp, stabbing pain deep inside your foot.
A quick Google search offers a diagnosis: plantar fasciitis. You read that it’s inflammation of your plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. When it’s under too much stress, it develops small tears and irritation. The pain usually goes away once you get up and moving, but according to the internet, ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to chronic, debilitating pain and other foot, knee, hip, or back problems.
So what can you do to alleviate and prevent plantar fasciitis?
Get checked out
Sure, Dr. Internet is great. But you should have your primary care practitioner check you out or even a physical therapist at Vitality Physical Therapy in Elmhurst too. It’s wise to rule out any other health or structural issues that can cause foot pain.
Stretches
Plantar fasciitis is most common in runners and other athletes. If you run a lot, incorporating foot stretches into your normal warm up and wind down routines can help prevent the development of foot pain.
Even if you are not physically active, you may suffer from heel pain if you work on your feet all day, or if you tend to wear shoes with poor support. You can also benefit from doing foot stretches throughout the day.
Plantar fasciitis is felt most often first thing in the morning because the plantar fascia tends to tighten when you are at rest. If you’re suffering from heel pain, try these stretches in the morning before doing anything else:
  • Flex your foot up and down 10 times before standing.
  • Do toe stretches. With your foot extended in front of you as far as possible while still in reach, grasp and pull your big toe back toward your ankle. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat three times.
  • Try towel stretches. Fold a towel lengthwise and put under the arch of your foot, holding both ends in your hands. Gently pull your foot towards you. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat three times.
  • Finally, do a rolling massage. Sit on the edge of the bed or a chair and roll your foot back and forth over a cold bottle of water, can, or foam roller for one minute.
You can do these same stretches throughout the day when it’s possible to take your shoes off, such as after work, before exercising, or before bed. During these stretches you should feel some pulling, but not pain. Stop and take a break or stretch more gently if it does begin to hurt.
Massage is relaxing even under the best circumstances, so no wonder it’s ideal for soothing sore muscles and tissues when you’ve strained something! In fact, some studies have found that massage combined with stretching works better at treating plantar fasciitis than other medical treatments.
If you’re suffering from heel pain, massage by Annie at ZenGate Healing Arts may help. A massage therapist who is familiar with foot pain and understands all of the muscle groups in your legs/feet and how they connect will know how to massage your tissues and release the tension that can cause pain.
Alternatively, you can do a simple massage at home too. Start by warming your foot tissues with a hot bath, shower, or foot soak to loosen them up. With a little bit of moisturizer or ZenGate Healing Arts CBD massage oil on your hands, massage your foot along its full length from heel to toes with medium to firm pressure. Then switch to massaging across the width of your foot. Go back and forth in these two directions for about two minutes on each foot. Finish by applying ice to each foot for about 15 minutes.
Whether you see a professional at ZenGate Healing Arts or do it yourself, massage increases blood circulation and reduces tightness in your plantar fascia. Better circulation allows your tired muscles to get the oxygen and nutrients they need to feel strong again. All of this promotes healing to the damage done to your foot tissues and helps those tissues be more limber and ready for action so they don’t sustain more damage as you go about your day.
We’ll find a solution
Whatever the cause of your heel pain, the solution is possible. A combination of targeted massage and stretches can go a long way in healing hurting feet and preventing plantar fasciitis in the future. The next time you get out of bed and feel that familiar stabbing pain, take a few minutes for stretches and massage, and you’ll be up on your feet— literally— in no time!

👊Less Pain All Gain👊

What do we really know about pain?

Pain is one of those “you know it when you feel it” kind of sensations. But it’s also a strange phenomenon, when you think about it. A snowball is cold, and so it feels cold when you touch it. A block of concrete is rough, so it feels rough when you touch it. But a knife isn’t painful on its own. Neither is a pot of boiling water or the leg of a table. We handle these things safely all the time, and experience their mass and temperature and texture. But pain exists only in the body, and even more specifically (as people who’ve experienced anesthesia know firsthand) in our minds. But that doesn’t make it less real! So what exactly is happening when we feel pain, and how do we stop it from negatively impacting our lives?

How does pain work?

There are three primary types of pain, and each of them works a slightly different way.

1.) Nociceptive pain (tissue pain).

There are many different kinds of sense receptors in the body. Some are sensitive to heat or cold, some to touch or pressure. Others, called free nerve endings, aren’t specialized for any one type of stimulus. When a significant stimulus triggers these nerve endings, they send a message through the spinal cord and up to the brain indicating that something potentially dangerous has happened. The brain then decides (without consulting the part involved in conscious thought, alas) whether this is something to ignore or brush off or if it seems likely that damage has occurred. This then sends this message back down to the affected part of the body.

If the message is “No biggie, ‘tis but a scratch,” then you’ll most likely shake yourself off and forget the incident even happened. If it’s “WHOA, THIS SEEMS LIKE A PROBLEM,” then you experience this as pain.

This is useful! Just ask someone with CIPA, or congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, a disease that leaves people insensitive to pain. Imagine not noticing a bit of grit in your eye until it damages your cornea, developing stress fractures in your feet because nothing is telling you it’s time to sit down, or ending up with burns in your mouth and throat because you don’t realize your coffee is scalding hot. Pain stops us from trying to walk on a sprained ankle or go for a run when we have a fever. Tissue damage, high temperatures, low pH, and capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers) are all common triggers for this process.

But brains aren’t always correct when it comes to assessing danger. Lorimer Moseley gives a brilliant example of this in his TEDx talk. What’s the difference between the pain from a scratch on the leg and the pain from a nearly-fatal snake bite? Spoiler: it’s whatever your brain is expecting. That’s why you might feel little pain after a bicycle accident, but be in agony when getting the wound stitched up two hours later. Pain is weird.

2.) Neuropathic pain (nerve pain).

This is pain that results from an issue with the nervous system itself, rather than surrounding tissues. If you’ve ever banged your funny bone, you know this feeling well. Common forms of neuropathic pain include:

  • Sciatica: pain in the sciatic nerve running through the hip and down into the leg and foot
  • Diabetic neuropathy: nerve damage resulting from fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: pain resulting from the compression of the nerves that run through the wrist into the hand

Less common forms include phantom limb pain (pain that feels like it originates in an amputated limb) and postherpetic neuralgia, which occurs as a result of getting shingles.

Neuropathic pain can be especially frustrating because the normal things we do to reduce pain are often useless when it comes to pain originating in the nervous system. Moving or not moving our muscles, applying heat or ice, these can have relatively little impact on nerve pain.

What’s more, nerves don’t heal as well as things like muscles and skin do, which makes nerve pain more likely to become chronic pain.

3.) Other kind of pain. The unknown. Where and Why? 

Pain is messy, and a lot of it doesn’t fall into either of the two categories above. Fibromyalgia is a great example of this. Is it pain resulting from tissue damage? Nope. What about nerve damage? Not as far as we can tell. It’s caused by the nervous system malfunctioning, sometimes in horrible ways, but that don’t result from actual nerve damage. Often a lot of it. And the world of medicine is still trying to figure out why.

So how do we alleviate pain?

There are several different options.

  • If the pain is caused by some kind of physical injury or stimulus, you can work on fixing that. If your hand is being burned on a lightbulb, you can remove your hand, which will make most of that pain go away. If you’re experiencing a muscle cramp in your foot, you can flex the foot (manually, if necessary). If you’re experiencing pain from sitting in the same position for too long, you can move around and shake out your legs. If the cause of the pain is inflammation, anti-inflammatories and ice can reduce that. This is perhaps the ideal form of pain relief, although it’s not always in the realm of the possible.
  • You can block the messages that tell your brain you’re in pain. This is how many painkillers work. Ice can also numb nerve endings.
  • You can convince your brain that you’re not in any real danger. This is a tough one, because the brain doesn’t just listen when you tell it things. But it’s well documented that fear, stress, and anxiety lead to increased pain perception. And of course, pain leads to stress, which leads to pain … General relaxation techniques—from meditation to light exercise to getting a massage—can all be helpful in turning the brain’s pain alarms down a notch. Physical therapy (practicing certain motions in a way that isn’t painful) and talk/art therapy can also be useful here too.

How can massage help with pain?

Sometimes the issue is one that massage can help manage on a physical level. Such as trigger point therapy or even cupping. But even more often, massage gives the brain a chance to let down its guard and experience something non-painful and even pleasant in the body. And while there’s no silver bullet for pain, that can mean a lot for people whose pain has defied more straightforward treatments and whose injuries or illnesses are already healed.

Feeling the hurt yourself? Suffering from chronic pain? Need pain management? There’s a massage with your name on it. Book your next one today with Annie at ZenGate Healing Arts! 

12 Days of Zen Day 10

ZenMomma- improve sleep, relieve pain and ease stress.

90-minute ZenMomma Prenatal Massage Gift Certificate for the price of a 60-minute ZenMomma Prenatal Massage! 

Online Gift Certificates/eGift Cards Code: day10 | Promotion valid from 12/12/17 – 12/24/17.

Purchase online from our store here.

12 Days of Zen Day 10

Massage and Arthritis

Massage can ease your arthritis symptoms.

Massage can ease your arthritis symptoms.

 According to The Arthritis Foundation, Massage can ease your arthritis symptoms. Recent studies on the effects of massage for arthritis symptoms have shown regular use of this simple therapy led to improvement in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints.

If you are suffering from arthritis pain or stiffness or know someone consider massage therapy a source for regular pain relief!


Annie Van Zeyl, LMT

Annie Van Zeyl is a Licensed Massage Therapist who loves working with the most stressed out career professionals, moms with kids of all ages and individuals with medical conditions.  Annie uses an integrated approach of massage therapy, guided meditation, chakra balancing and energy work to help reduce stress, anxiety & muscle tension in her sessions for improving the overall well-being. She is the owner of ZenGate Healing Arts and can be reached at annie@zengatehealingarts.com and zengatehealingarts.com.

Reduce Pregnancy Pain

ZenGatePreggo4 copyPrenatal Massage can help ZenMommas find relief from the pregnancy pains along with many other benefits that help create ease & joy while nurturing a child within.  Pregnancy Pain can be debilitating! From round ligament pain, sciatica, carpel tunnel, itchy skin, leg cramps and hormonal changes, no wonder pregnant women are looking for ways to relieve the aches & pains to fall in love with their pregnancy.  At ZenGate Healing Arts, Annie Van Zeyl, LMT is Elmhurst, IL Pre/Post-Natal & Infant Massage Specialist.  Offering a variety of services catering for all trimesters in pregnancy.

Annie is a 2005″ Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist” by Peg Johnson, RN from the formally known Wellness & Massage Training Institute, Woodridge, IL.  Undergoing an advanced certification level program in massage for pregnancy, labor and postpartum. Annie’s advanced prenatal education has helped improve the level of health of the expectant and postpartum woman for over 10 years. Whether it’s an opportunity to simply unplug and relax during this special time, or reduce pain and discomfort related to the changes your body is currently going through, a prenatal massage session with Annie is guaranteed to improve your overall health & wellness.

 Have more questions about massage therapy for pregnancy and postpartum? Call Annie @ (630) 935-0171 or send her an email. She is more than happy to answer any questions!

ZenGate Healing Arts joins Chamber of Commerce!

Member of Elmhurst Chamber

ZenGate Healing Arts is a proud member of the Elmhurst Chamber

 

It’s a pleasure to announce that ZenGate Healing Arts has joined the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce!

Being part of the community as a small business is an honor and privilege! ZenGate Healing Arts looks forward to networking with all the local businesses and being a strong asset to the community and the preferred provider of massage therapy services.  Massage has helped millions of people every year with managing pain, muscle tension and stress.

We look forward to helping the community continue to be healthy and relaxed!