Can massage help your headache?

16 June 2022

Tension headaches, migraines, and the benefits of massage.


If you have suffered repeated migraines or tension headaches, you are aware of how debilitating it is in your life. It affects how you work, relate to friends and enjoy family time. While there are medical treatments for headaches and migraines you may also be considering alternative or complementary activities such as those provided at Melbourne Wellness.


What are migraines and tension headaches?

Migraine is a common neurological disorder, characterised by a moderate to severe headache and nausea. Features of migraines include:

  • The pain has at least two of the following characteristics:
    • one-sided
    • moderate to severe intensity
    • throbbing
    • aggravated by movement (i.e. walking, going upstairs)
  • There is at least one of the following associated symptoms:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • photophobia (sensitivity to light)
    • phonophobia (sensitivity to noise)
  • The headache lasts for between 4 and 72 hours. (3)


Tension headaches are:

  • the most common headaches.
  • pain is felt on both sides of the head rather than just on one side
  • sensation of pressing or tightening
  • may cause some sensitivity to light or sound.
  • last between 30 minutes to seven days.


Research shows that massage treatments can provide some relief to migraines and tension headaches. Regular massage can provide long-term relief from the severe effects of migraines and headaches. (see references 1,4)


How massage may help with your headache or migraine:

Muscle Spasms or Tension:  Massage in the neck and shoulder regions can help to relax taught bands of tissue/muscle attached to the base of the skull that causes pain through the tension that travels up through the back of the head and eyes.

Hormone Regulation:  Hormonal chemical changes often trigger migraines. Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, can be controlled by massage therapy, which also increases endorphin production and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Improved Circulation: Massage has been shown to increase blood flow, which in turn improves oxygen levels and can help reduce pain.


At Melbourne Wellness we provide remedial massage, reflexology, and dry needling to support those that suffer frequent or chronic migraines and headaches. Research shows that regular massage, like that conducted at Melbourne Wellness, may reduce the severity and or frequency of migraines and headaches. (see references 2, 3)


In addition, Melbourne Wellness naturopaths may offer additional natural support through diet and lifestyle changes. At Melbourne Wellness we believe working in a complementary way with your medical provider creates the best environment to manage your wellbeing in a holistic way.


Migraines and tension headaches affect daily life. We recommend massage treatments alongside medical support to manage the symptoms. Getting to the cause will help you get back to enjoying your daily life.






1 A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine Sheleigh P Lawler 1Linda D Cameron


2 Therapy and Quality of Life in People with Headache: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Luca Falsiroli Maistrello 1Marco Rafanelli 2Andrea Turolla 3


 3 Needling for the Treatment of Tension-Type, Cervicogenic, or Migraine Headaches: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


4 needling versus friction massage to treat tension type headache: A randomized clinical trial