Headaches can be quite debilitating. They are among the highest percentage of instances where people are unable to work and call in sick. This applies equally to migraines. The causes of many migraines and headaches are stress and tension related, and others where certain trigger foods run a close second. A surprising number can be caused by subconsciously biting your teeth together. First, take yourself to a quiet, comfortable sound-free space, if possible. Preferably, lay yourself down and try to let all your muscles go floppy. Lay a folded towel under your head. Lightly close your eyes. Allow your jaw to be just comfortably open. Take big, deep, focused breaths.
Then, begin to explore the muscles on your face with the fingers or thumbs. Can you feel any which are quite painful when you press on them? If so, you’ve probably found one of the trigger points for your headache. If you’re not taking any medication for heart conditions, or to thin the blood, then you can safely press and circle over the triggers. The reason I mentioned about medication is that even gentle pressure can cause bruising, especially if you’re taking warfarin.
Some of the trigger points can feel quite painful when you work on them. Remember to press and circle the offending muscles slowly and progressively. If you find one which appears to amplify your headache, take it gently. First, press, and circle. Is it painful? Does the pain recede over a period of 10 seconds? Are you aware of any other muscles which are related to, and contributing to your headache?
They must all completely release before your headache will go. There are many triggers. Some are in the forehead, others on the cheek (zygomatic) bones, in the muscles of that area. Others can be present in the rear of the jaw just below the earlobes. These can be major contributors to headaches so painful you can feel quite sick with pain. Gently attack them. Press, breathe, circle, press further in, breathe, circle. Can you find any others that feel as tender?
They also exist in the orbital cavities (the periphery of the eye sockets), and often at the top of the bridge of the nose adjacent to the eye sockets. Please be mindful around the eyes, because pressure applied in this area can press contact lenses uncomfortably against the eyes. I would recommend them removed before working round the eyes.
Others triggers can be found on the back of the head, at the base of the skull, known as the occipital. The muscle that traverses from the occipital bone, over the head to the forehead and down to the eyes is the Occipitofrontalis muscle. There can be regional tension anywhere along this muscle, and good, deep, invigorating massage with thumbs and fingers can lift an enormous amount of tension and help you feel much better.
Necks and shoulders are also prone to tension, because their muscles are linked to the head and used to move it, as well as being used for a huge amount of other movements. The human head weighs an average of 14 pounds, so think of the work your muscles have to do in a day.
As a great takeaway, here’s a really good shortcut you can use. This is often the best way to start finding the triggers, because it makes you aware of which ones they are: open the mouth as hugely wide as possible. Screw the eyes shut as tight as you can. Stick out the tongue as far as possible. Do this for 10-20 seconds, then relax. Remember how important it is to breathe throughout anything like this. Ingress of oxygen really helps relieve tension, so take really huge big lungfuls. And be careful not to do this on a tube train or bus-someone might be irreversibly scared!