I feel for those of you who have to contend with migraines or other types of recurring headaches, because just having one once in a while is debilitating. It can be extremely difficult to function when you’re walking around with nagging pain.
Understanding your triggers and headache type can help to alleviate or prevent pain, but when nothing seems to work, it’s time to look at things in a new way. In an interview with Prevention magazine, renowned physical therapist David Reavy shone a light on a common cause of tension headaches.
It’s your masseter muscle. Tension headaches are terribly common with pain that can range from a dull ache to moderate, and they can be frequent or infrequent. It’s often described as an ache that stretches around the head, affecting both sides. Sometimes, tension headaches will make your eyes hurt.
There is no cure which leaves many people reaching for an OTC pain medication or finding natural ways to get rid of them.
While stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and even dehydration have been linked to the cause behind tension headaches, your masseter muscle may be playing a major role. Deemed the “strongest muscle in the body”, when it’s tight, it can lead to head pain.
The masseter muscle is located in the face in the cheek/jaw region and is responsible for movement in the jaw. A tense or overworked masseter can lead to discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and head. Headaches caused by the masseter can be relieved with an easy massage technique.
According to Reavy, you can do it yourself for just a few seconds to make headache pain disappear. How’s it done?
First, using your fingers, locate the groove right under your cheekbone and above the jawbone. A fingertip or two should do the trick. Rest your other fingers on the fleshy part of the masseter muscle. That’s the region where you want to concentrate your massage skills.
Now, with your fingers or knuckles, massage the area inwards and downwards. Apply gentle pressure as you do it, opening the mouth slowly and then closing it. After a moment or so, you should feel the muscle loosen, and your headache dwindle away.
You can repeat the motion as needed, but if you notice a tension headache coming on, catch it early with this technique.
Reavy suggests those who tend to clench their jaws under stress try this method out on a regular basis. People who grind their teeth in their sleep or who have TMJ may also find this an effective form of self-therapy for soreness.
Sometimes, you’ll notice you have pain in this muscle, and it radiates upwards into your head. It may even be on one side of your jaw or face due to bruxism (teeth grinding) or clenching. With this masseter massage, you can help to soften the area up before or after the pain starts. Do it when you wake up or when you go to bed!
Are you suffering from chronic tension headaches? Will you try this technique for relief? What’s your current method for fighting these headaches?