- Understand the anatomy of your headache and migraine pain so that you can discover the root cause of your pain.
- Discover my 5 natural ways to get relief so that you can get back to doing what you love to do.
- Learn my simple self-massage so that you can give yourself relief whilst your massage therapist is currently unavailable!
Now you can listen to me on the go. I've just released my new Playbook for Pain Relief Podcast. With new episodes Monday-Friday every week, I'm here as your therapist and coach to share my insights and help you transform your stress, tension and pain into health, happiness and vitality.
Click here to access my 5 Natural Ways for Headache & Migraine Relief podcast episode.
- Headache stress, tension and pain - Tenderness on the scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
- Migraine stress, tension and pain
- Blurry vision
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
Anatomy of Headache & Migraine Pain
These two videos explain in a visual form the anatomy behind headache and migraine pain.
5 Natural Ways for Relief
#1 - Hydrate
The brain capillary system is under the direct control and influence of a very important hormone - histamine. Histamine has many jobs and those related to dehydration include water-regulation to the brain and temperature regulation of the body. The brain does not tolerate overheating, and in particular, its enzyme systems are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Thus, when there is dehydration in the brain area - due to insufficient intake of water, stress, alcohol or overheating of the body - the action of histamine causes headache and migraine pain.
Interestingly, 'all normal painkillers cut the connection between histamine and one of it's major subordinate systems' (Dr. Batmanghelidj - You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty). This is why painkillers may offer some temporary relief. However, if you are looking to seek out the origin of your pain, I highly recommend to begin by sufficiently hydrating your body everyday.
Each day drink half your body weight (measured in pounds) in ounces of water, regardless of whatever else your drink. If you weight 150 pounds, you would need to drink 75 ounces (about 10 cups) of water. Remember, when you arise in the morning your body is like a sponge ready to rehydrate from your sleep cycle. I highly recommend to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth before drinking, to eliminate the build up of bacteria in the oral cavity during sleep.
#2 - Sleep
Sleep is your body's opportunity to rest and recover from your day. This is where the magic happens to rebuild, renew and revitalize your energy for your next day. Although, the brain becomes less active, there are a significant number of physiological events that are taking place during your sleep that you are not even aware of. This is the amazing beauty of the human body - to know, without your direct control, what needs to be done and in what sequence. All you have to do is provide the raw materials (food, sleep, good thoughts and movement) and your body will do its job.
As a species we have a diurnal clock - meaning that we are generally awake during the day and asleep at night. I recommend to aim for between 7-9 hours of regular sleep each night. If you are a shift worker, it becomes even more important to listen to your body's needs. Find a balance to help yourself catch up on your sleep quota each day/week. If you are minimum 7-hours per night, over the course of the week that would equal 49-hours per week.
Good habits of sleep include: - Routine - go to bed, fall asleep and wake up at similar times each day for regularity and programming of your circadian rhythms.
- Wind down - what you do in the last 30-60 minutes before going to sleep can often dictate the quality (depth and length) of your sleep. Consider easy reading, soft music, light yoga or meditating to help calm your body and mind before drifting into bliss.
- Power naps - I personally will use naps to catch up on my sleep quota if I'm behind. Consider using an afternoon nap to help boost your recovery. I recommend 10-30 minutes.
#3 - Meditate
Emotional stress, tension and pain is one of the leading causes of all forms of pain and disease. This places an excessive demand on your sympathetic nervous system (or fight and flight) and causes adrenal fatigue/exhaustion.
Meditation is my #1 tool that I regularly practice to help heal my body and mind. It is like a martial art for the mind, combating the enemy of distraction and delusion (hatred, attachment and ignorance). Happiness and suffering are states of mind and therefore their main causes cannot be found outside of the mind.
By taking a few minutes each day to reset your mind you can reset and reveal the extraordinary capacity of your body to heal itself. Here are a couple of solutions I've learned through Buddhist meditation, and that I recommend to my patients.
Meditation 1 - Black and White Breathing Sit quietly where you won't be disturbed. Focus on your breath. Take 2-minutes and focus exclusively on the experiences you have while breathing. When your mind becomes distracted, refocus to your breath. Next, imagine for each inward breath a white light, representing health, happiness and healing, pervades your body and mind. This expands more and more with each breath. As you exhale, imagine black smoke, representing stress, tension and pain, leaving your body and mind and completely dissolving into the atmosphere. When you have a feeling of peace and contentment at your heart, meditate single-pointedly for as long as you can. When your mind becomes distracted, refocus using the contemplation of black and white breathing.
Meditation 2 - Compassionate Wish for Others
We suffer because we are so very aware of our own pain and not so much of the suffering of others. This meditation plunges deeper into a special training of developing a compassionate wish to relieve the suffering of others. Begin with a few minutes of black and white breathing, then begin to consider the number of people in the world that suffer with headaches/migraines and perhaps a far more significant level of pain than what you may have to endure. Try to imagine as vividly as possible, what that would look like and how they may be feeling. Then cultivate a strong wish to want to remove their suffering. Try to maintain this compassionate mind for as long as possible. When your mind becomes distracted, refocus using the above contemplation.
#4 - Get Outdoors
It's a challenge to escape from electro-magnetic fields (EMF) in our modern world. Until we leave them all behind and take retreat to the ocean, lake or mountains - we are surrounded by electronic devices and technologies, day and night, and these are having a negative impact upon our biology.
The way I describe to my patients is it is like having a battery and each night that we have a great sleep (in a room free from as many sources of EMF as possible!) your battery gets fully recharged. Throughout our day, the more time we are indoors surrounded by electronics (lights, stove, computer, phone), the more our daily battery is being depleted. By taking a power nap and meditating we can boost that battery. Another effective method is recharging using our own solar panel (our skin) by exposing it to sunlight and leaving all electronic sources behind.
I recommend a daily walk or other outdoor activity for a minimum of 30-minutes, preferably in the sunlight.
#5 - Massage
Restoring Balance in 5-Steps
Move - increase your body temperature and blood flow to all your muscles.
MASSAGE - using a partner, lacrosse ball or foam roller to agitate the muscles.
Mobilize - move the joints in their full range of motion.
Stretch - focus on lengthening the short-tight muscles.
Strengthen - focus on strengthening the long-weak muscles.
This week I shared one of my favorite choices of self-massage to address the muscular cause of headache and migraine.
My prescription is to perform this self-massage often to help pay down your postural debt due to overuse of some muscles and inactivation of others. Remember intensity is the shortcut to results. In this case, the intensity comes from the pressure you apply for massage, the length of time you massage and the frequency throughout the day or week.
I suggest the following: MAJOR SYMPTOMS - Massage for 5-10 minutes, 3+ times per day.
MINOR SYMPTOMS - Massage for 5-10 minutes, daily.
NO SYMPTOMS - Massage 5-minutes, 3 times per week.
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Yours In Muscle Health,
Jason Barlow, RMT
P: 403 589 4645
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