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Posted by Kristel Horwood, Sep 21 2012 8:48PM

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Headache after massage

Can anyone shed more light on what causes a person to have a headache after a massage - usually 1 or 2 days later, not directly after a massage ? Does this mean the person is not hydrated enough or are there other things to consider too ? Massage movements too fast ? Opening a can of worms of tension ? Many thanks for your views
Nanette Wray
Sep 21 2012 9:11PM
This can be a normal contra-action known the healing process. Once the client has received a couple of massages these headaches may disappear.
Over a few treatments the contra-actions should become less. If in any doubt refer your client to heir GP.
Kristel Horwood
Sep 21 2012 9:13PM
thanks - would you recommend weekly massages for a few weeks to relieve the tension ? I agree if headaches are long term I would refer to GP.
Nanette Wray
Sep 21 2012 9:16PM
A weekly massage - or even 2 a week may be beneficial. Definitely.
Amanda Clegg
Sep 21 2012 10:21PM
IT's also very likely to be dehydration - ensure your client drinks a glass of water before leaving, and advise them to drink plenty during the day and avoid alcohol. Even if it is a healing crisis the water will help. The other thing is if possible include massage to stomach/colon area to aid digestion and encourage evacuation. Constipation is also an issue which can promote headaches.
Marjorie Turner
Sep 22 2012 7:10AM
Keep off the alcohol...............drink plenty of water and take it easy.

Kristel Horwood
Sep 22 2012 7:32AM
Thanks for all your replies - very much appreciated.
Mike Colquhoun
Sep 22 2012 10:17AM
Hi Kristel
On a strictly physical level post massage dehydration, part of the cause of the headache, is caused by the release of toxins which need extra water in the system to flush them away.
On a more esoteric level after a massage you have 'opened' both of you up to healing energies and unless you 'close' the patient down after your treatment they go out into the big bad world ‘open’ to anything that is out there while you head off to wash your hands ‘closing’ yourself in the process.
To ‘close’ your patient place your hands on or near the patient’s head; try a small prayer or ‘wrap you and them in a rainbow’ or ‘pull a sock over yourselves’ or whatever suits your belief system. Now I know all this is MAD, but if I’m wrong you will waste 2mins per patient being nice to them, but if you ignore me and I’m right ?
I was told this by a ‘faith healer’ and thought him stupid for believing such tripe but since then I promise you I have never sent a patient away without ‘closing’ them and I now know he was right. I would not send a patient away without closing them.
Hope this helps Yours aye Mike
Nanette Wray
Sep 22 2012 10:55AM
I do similar Mike. I always hold my hands over the clients face and/or head, when I finish the face/head. As well as 'closing' when I finish the feet. I think it feels good for both of us...
Adam Buttery
Sep 23 2012 9:52PM
I would add another reason - when a muscle is in spasm it can lead to a Trigger Point forming, an especially tight band of muscle fibres which are responsible for much of the pain in the body. Once a trigger point (TP) has formed, it has two states - Active, when it is actively causing pain, and Dormant, when it has eased (through rubbing, stretching, applying heat, etc) and is not painful.

Note - Active is the key word here - when a pain has 'gone away' it is usually that the TP responsible has moved into Dormant state. When we give or receive a treatment which eases a pain but it 'comes back again', often all that has happened is we have exercised the muscle enough to move the TP back into Active state.

So, aggravating the TP (often through exercise or dehydration) can cause it to move back in to Active state. The stretching of a muscle with a TP during massage can be perceived as exercise and lead to it becoming active again. This is especially true if you are trying to release it but haven't worked it enough to go from Active state into cleared state (ie, the TP has been removed from teh muscle compeltely).

If you want to find out more about Trigger Points there is much reading, research and training available. Look for names such as Travell, Simons and more. Understanding and learning how to release trigger points will add a completely new dimension to your work as a massage therapist and greatly improve your results with clients.

I hope this helps.
Kristel Horwood
Sep 25 2012 5:29PM
Thanks Adam - I will look into it. Thanks also to the other therapists - yes I do have a way of closing my clients and finishing my treatment.
Lucy MacArthur
Sep 26 2012 5:16PM
The times I have had post massage headaches reported to me were usually when the recipient didn't follow post massage advice such as not drinking alcohol that evening/drinking enough water or taking it easy and one previously very stressed recipient did a massive weekly shop after her first ever massage and had quite bad headaches all that evening and the next morning too. I have found that people who do take the advice on-board don't normally suffer and although I know about it mostly as a dehydration issue, I suspect that some people will suffer anyway due to other reasons mentioned (i.e. build up of tension before the massage etc). I agree that with persistent headaches it would be very wise for the person to consult their GP! Lucy
Julie King
Sep 27 2012 8:14PM
On the subject of "closing", since becoming Reiki attuned I have without fail channelled Reiki to the crown chakra, third eye chakra and foot chakras to ground the client at the end of every treatment I provide, except Bowen Technique which is an energy treatment of its own. I do this by gently placing my hands slightly above these areas of the body. When engaging in a client treatment you are consciously or unconsciously engaging with their energy field, hence why we should approach and withdraw from the client very gently and rhythmically. No sudden movements. When you move away from the client to wash your hands, etc, spend a moment consciously disengaging from their energies, as you can end up carrying their energy issues with you causing problems for yourself as easily as you can leave them with issues. Good clear information on the possible effects of a healing crisis before the client leaves can help to relieve anxieties if they happen and I always reassure my clients they can contact me if they are at all worried by any after effects. Rarely have I been contacted but clients like to feel they are still supported.
Kristel Horwood
Nov 5 2012 1:01PM
Adam, what causes a muscle to go into spasm ? In the meantime I referred my client to a GP and result is Ménière's disease. Could this cause the muscle to go into spasm ? I am not medical at all and have explained to my client I do not cure, I can only relief tension.

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