Ask Dianna: treating headaches
Ask Dianna is a feature where I answer your practice and product related questions. I realized that we often help massage therapists (and sometimes clients) with massage, product, and business related problems in the course of our regular phone conversations. I want to extend that personal connection to all of you through this blog. I look forward to discussing issues that matter to you. Click here to send me a quick message with your question (we'll keep your identity anonymous).
~ 12/01/08 ~
"I’ve been a full-time massage therapist for five years and do deep tissue massage for stress reduction. Many of the people I see are now coping with chronic headaches, often showing up for treatments with them. Most are tension headaches, not migraines. Is there a special technique or essential oil that I can easily add to my treatments?"
Heads Up in North Carolina
Dear Heads Up,
Thank you for clarifying that you are dealing with the more typical tension headaches and not migraines. Many of the basic approaches I use will work well for a tension headache but could actually aggravate a migraine. Treating chronic migraines can require advanced training (see www.benbenjamin.com
). For generalized headache treatments I recommend the following techniques and products I developed as part of my practice over the past 20 years:
1. Start with the feet. Your client may say, "Hey, it’s my head that hurts", but explain that you'll get to their head shortly. First pull their energy and focus out of their head and down the body. With the client in the supine position, support the lower back by using a bolster or pillow under the knees. This position tilts the pelvis and lengthens the spine and neck, allowing energy to flow away from the head. I start with a gentle tractioning of the legs by anchoring my hands at the Achilles and heel - again opening up the spine. Apply a small amount of Peppermint Pedango
to their feet and work the soles up through the toes systematically. If your client doesn't like aromatherapy then I recommend an unscented oil or cream for the same purpose. Reflexology points. If you have training in Reflexology, incorporate the appropriate points. But remember, Reflexology points can be tender so prepare the foot with at least 5 minutes of warm up and stretching massage on the sole and toes.
2. Cold Stone Massage. Move from feet to head incorporating Cold Stones if you have them. I use small, smooth marble stones that I’ve soaked in ice water to smooth the musculature of the neck and face (no oil or lotion needed). Marble stones are used because they are always 11 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature and marble holds the cold longer. Cold Stone Massage is an amazing pain reliever that cools the musculature without freezing it the way ice or analgesics can. For more info on Cold Stone techniques and marble stones, check out www.naturestonesinc.com
3. Another way to cool the head. I apply a tiny drop of Peppermint Pedango
to my fingertips and lightly work it into the clients' temples at the hairline and into the neck at the base of the skull. Be sure to keep away from the eyes and warn your client not to rub the Peppermint into their eyes accidentally after the massage.
4. Make your Headache infusion! Mix 3 drops of Headache Relief Essential Oil Blend
into a 1 ounce bottle
of Ultra Massage Oil
. Apply your Headache infusion to the neck and chest to get the client breathing in all of the essential oils. If your client does not prefer aromatherapy I would recommend using the Ultra alone or any other completely unscented product. The key is to use very little product with very light touch so you can really feel the subtle differences in temperature, muscular texture, and energy in the neck, head, and face that you are working to equalize.
5. Headward bound! Typically I work from the chest upward to the scalenes and splenius on the neck. Then I focus on pushing the Headache infusion into points along the occipital ridge at the back of the head. Be specific as you work your Headache infusion into the scalp a drop at a time and visualize the Chamomile and Lavender oils pulling tension from the head and calming the nerves and muscles cell by cell. As you work up the back of the head to the forehead, slow and complete contact is key to easing the headache.
6. Give 'em a hand. With the client still in the supine position I move on to hand and arm work, in essence pulling tension and energy away from the body and out to the ends of the meridians. I continue to apply the Headache infusion to the palms and thoroughly massage the hands prior to utilizing any Reflexology points.
7. Headache gone? A quick check-in with your client at this point will reveal whether or not they should be moved to a prone position for more vigorous, circulatory work. If the headache has started to disperse I would proceed, if not I would work the fronts of the legs moving back down to more foot work then check in again. Ultimately I would end the treatment by returning to the head with gentle, tractioning neck holding at the occipital ridge to leave the client in a state of alignment and openness. I always send the client home with the remainder of the one ounce bottle of Headache infusion I customized for them and instruct them to apply a few drops to their temples if the headache persists and also to use it as a bath oil for a nice relaxing treat to extend the benefits of the massage.
DiannaContact us through our feedback form or email us to let us know your thoughts.
Posted by Melissa Alosso on December 1st, 2008 | Permalink
Pure Pro Holiday Schedule
For the holiday enjoyment of all of our employees, we are closed for our annual winter vacation.
- We will be closed from Wednesday, December 24th, 2008, (at 12 pm Eastern) through Sunday, January 4th, 2009.
- We will reopen for regular business and resume shipping on Monday, January 5th.
We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding during our closing. As a small company, we take this time to give every employee the benefit of uninterrupted respite to enjoy with their families and friends. Upon our return we will be refreshed and excited to reconnect with you.All of us at Pure Pro are grateful for your continued support and wish you happiness, health, and peace always. May the wonder of the season renew your spirit and fill your heart with joy!
Posted by Melissa Alosso on December 1st, 2008 | Permalink