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Causes and Cures for Headaches

Everyone who gets headaches, even occasionally, knows that a headache can slow you down like nothing else. There are probably as many types of headaches as there are sufferers, and as many cures. As a massage therapist, there are two types of headaches that stand out because I know I can help relieve them.

Headaches that begin in the jaw and radiate up over the ears, through the temporalis muscle, may be caused by tightness in the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle. The what? The SCM runs from the sternum and collar bone to the bony protuberance just behind the earlobe. These muscles often stand out visibly and feel ropy to the touch. Try gently taking hold of your right SCM between the fleshy part of your right thumb and the side of your curled index finger. Hold and squeeze. Painful? Really, really painful? Then we are onto something. Try holding and gently pulling the SCM for 30 seconds or more. Then move up and down along the entire line of the muscle. Many people notice that their jaws feel looser and tension in their temples dissipates.

Why do the SCMs get so tight? My SCMs get tight when I breathe with my throat and neck muscles instead of my abdominal muscles. I often breathe that way when my nose is stuffy and I am breathing through my mouth. Take a moment right now to become conscious of where your breath originates. If you are a “shallow” breather, chances are you are using your throat and neck more than your chest or abdomen. This simple difference may be giving you headaches.

Headaches that begin at the outside of the base of the skull and move inward and upward may be caused by tightness in the trapezius or scalene muscles. These muscles run up the back and sides of the neck and attach to the base of the skull. Massage can help, but the best solution I’ve seen is a very gently traction pillow called Cervial Ease by VTI Products. Let me say right off the bat that I do not sell these pillows nor do I profit by their sale – I just really believe in them. I’ve loaned mine to several clients who suffer from tension headaches and many have purchased their own. Here’s how it works: Lie on the pillow for 15 minutes once or twice a day. The pillow gently creates space between your cervical (neck) vertebrae and encourages the trapezius and scalene muscles to relax. If you suffer from this type of headache regularly, the investment in the pillow will be well worth it. Just don’t loan it out too often – tell your friends and family to get their own!

What other suggestions do our local healers have for treating headaches?


Another cure for headaches and mainly all pains of the body is called cold laser treatment. This is a treatment that is used over in Europe to help relieve, eliminate, and manage pain. It promotes cellular healing, Endorphin release, increased blood flow, and many other benefits.

By far the most common cause of recurring headaches, particularly migraines, that I see in the office is food allergy.

If you're getting headaches regularly, don't say to yourself: "Why do I have such lousy luck and keep getting these headaches?

Instead, try this one: "What did I eat that might have caused this?"

Just about any food allergy can trigger a headache. If you're a migraine sufferer, however, the two most common culprits are MSG and chocolate (yes, chocolate, sorry chocoholics!).

Don't think you've had any MSG recently? Think again. Check out http://www.truthinlabeling.com/Jack_hiddensources.htm and start reading food labels like a detective.

Avoid the stuff like the plague, whether you're allergic to MSG or not. It's just not something any of us should have in our systems.

As for chocolate, you won't have any trouble finding that on the label. Any product that has it tends to proclaim it loudly and proudly!

Good luck!

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