#1 Massage Therapist Technique for Headaches

Feb 4, 2020

 by Travis Graham


Updated: Jun 7, 2019




A Pain in the neck….and beyond.

Did you know the cause pain anywhere in your back can start right at the base of your head?  

A complex group of muscles called the ‘Suboccipitals’, link eye movements to the rest of the back musculature to ensure their central control.  Their high number of muscles spindles (sensory tools for muscles) literally sets the “tone” of all the back muscles beneath them.  "Hyper"tonicity of the suboccipital muscles is usually found in people with Forward Head Posture which plagues roughly 90% of the world population.

So if you’re having any aches or pains from the head down to the tailbone (headaches too) that you can’t quite pinpoint the source or cause, always make sure your therapist does some sort of suboccipital release.  You’ll be happy you did!

Here’s a neat trick…

To feel this for yourself place your fingers or thumbs deep into the base of your skull (into the muscles in the picture above).  Close your eyes.  Now with eyes closed move them left to right without moving your head. You should feel slight contractions happening.  If you look up and down you will feel a slightly different set of muscles firing.

*I find that using a good quality peppermint oil helps dramatically. Rub a few drops into the sub occipital area during this technique!

You’re the Therapist

If you feel any referral to achey parts of your back or head, it is most likely at least some of your discomfort is coming from the suboccipitals.  Keeping your thumbs on the “sweet spot” of the suboccipitals, apply an appropriate pressure for you (that “releasing” pressure) and do 5 deep diaphragmatic breaths.  Consciously release the tension on every EXHALATION.  You should feel some sort of relief after this!

Stay Strong & Pain Free!

Travis Graham, CHEK Prac. 1, HLC 2, RMT