Active Healing Centre

Massage Therapy for Headaches

Easing the tension

Everyone has experienced a headache at some point in their life, often as a result of muscle tension or stress. Many Canadians experience chronic headaches of various types, which can limit their ability to work, to get a good night’s sleep, or to enjoy their regular daily activities. Massage therapy is one of the non-pharmacological options that can help people with many types of headaches find some relief.

Tension Type Headaches

Massage therapy, especially when combined with therapeutic exercise recommended by a health professional such as an RMT has been shown to be beneficial in helping people with chronic tension-type headaches reduce the intensity and frequency of their pain. Massage therapy can also help people with chronic tension-type headaches increase their range of motion. Massage therapy; particularly directed to the neck and shoulders, has been shown to reduce the number of tension-type headaches in a week, as well as help people be able to go back to doing the activities they love.

Post-Concussion Headaches

Chronic post-traumatic headaches are a common symptom after concussion, and can often be a particularly debilitating symptom for many people. Massage therapy is one great option for people experiencing headaches after a concussion to relieve their pain and reduce the frequency of their headaches. Whiplash injury that happens at the same time as the concussion is often the cause of these headaches, and this is where massage therapy can be of most help. For post-concussion patients experiencing cervicogenic headaches and local muscle tenderness surrounding the cervical spine, manual therapy such as massage therapy can reduce the frequency and intensity of their headaches and improve their range of motion.


Migraines can have a significant impact on peoples’ ability to participate in their regular daily activities, and now more than ever, people with migraines are turning to non-drug options to find some relief. Manual therapy like massage therapy has been found to reduce frequency of migraines as well as reduce medication use. Regular massage therapy treatments, particularly when focused on the head and neck, can also reduce migraine intensity and reduce the negative impact that migraines can have on daily life.

Massage Therapy Can Help

Chronic headaches can have a significant impact on peoples’ quality of life, and can prevent them from participating in their regular daily activities. Now more than ever, people are turning manual therapy, such as massage therapy, as a way to manage their headaches. Massage therapy is a great option to help people reduce the frequency and duration of their headaches, and reduce the pain they experience when they have a headache.

Resource: Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO) blog