Ask Chuck: Massage therapy can help with headaches, joint pain

By Charles Colson
July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.

A good friend of mine told me her headaches have become quite minimal because she is getting massage therapy treatments regularly. Could this really be a solution for me because my headaches happen quite frequently?

Yes, your friend is not imagining this even by a long shot. This subject has become quite popular with many health magazines.

For example, in a recent article from Massage Today, it is noted that massages provide headache relief.

According to the World Health Organization, headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system.

The organization estimates that 47 percent of the adult population suffers from headaches at least once a year. There are many environmental factors that can contribute to headache pain and numerous over-the-counter drugs that claim to relieve this type of suffering.

Check this out: If you are looking for a drug-free, quick solution, a study in the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy found that massage did provide comfortable relief for people suffering from headache pain. Notice I did say comfortable.

That should be on the minds of massage therapists as they perform only Swedish manipulations for headache treatments. This definitely does not call for the no-pain, no-gain philosophy. Feel free to counsel your therapist when you have read such articles as this.

Would you believe there is a foundation called the National Headache Foundation? How about that. It wisely discusses the term "medication overuse headache," which refers to headaches that persist despite the regular use of drugs for treatment.

This study suggests that massage therapy can present a reasonable alternative to dealing with repeated headaches, particularly episodic tension headaches. It is truly sad how my father suffered so often in the mid-50s with migraine headaches, and now massage therapists can get them under control quickly.

My father had to be sedated for three days before recovery was in sight. We massage therapists are trained to deal with chronic headache pains.

So, if you are suffering with chronic or acute headaches, visit your favorite massage therapist. Be sure not to hold anything back in telling him or her how you have been feeling. It is all kept confidential, and you will have a friend for life.

I really enjoy your explanations for getting healthier through treatments like massage therapy. I often experience joint pains even after working out and sometimes doing very little. Can massages help me get this under control so I can cope with it easier?

Thank you. Massages have a great deal of advantages for good health. Joint pains have no respect of age as to when or how long pain may occur. I have worked with people from age 15 to 95, and some suffer often with this condition. Joint pain can definitely be a debilitating issue, and many over-the-counter drugs are not helpful for long term.

Exercise is a great option when dealing with this pain. It, like massage therapy, helps improve blood circulation, which administers in carrying pure, oxygenated blood to the heart. Even the Harvard Medical School agrees with proper exercises, and professional massage therapy manipulations can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip or shoulder pain.

As you can imagine, therapy can easily delay or sidestep some surgeries. I bet our doctors will definitely endorse this personal attention to our bodies. Be honest, how many excuses can you think of when some health professional suggests you get on a good exercise program?

Let me guess. Could any of them be lack of energy, lack of money, lack of time, lack of motivation or no workout partner to be found? Got your attention yet? Yes, I'll even include myself using some of these excuses.

So let's say you can start a regular routine of massage therapy. Would you believe the therapist can assist you in an exercise program and the manipulations used will even do your stretching for you?

All you need to do is just simply relax and let the therapist take over. This, in turn, improves blood circulation, helps lower high blood pressure and leaves you with a perfect psychological feeling. Always remember, we can't start without you.

We have read recently that you touched on nutritional foods for better health. Could you give us more insight and knowledge to help the entire family when even eating fruits and veggies?

Very wise question. In massage training, we do touch on such subjects. I, too, need to practice this rather than just preach it. Getting the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables into our diets each day can be a challenge. The benefits are well known and documented.

These benefits are controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, protecting bones and arteries and keeping our digestion on track. Many programs call for us to use these foods at least five times a day, so let's not get overwhelmed to the point that it becomes a problem. An article in Massage Today suggests that for the first week, add just one fruit and one vegetable to your daily diet when starting a healthy program.

Take it one step at a time. This will certainly make it easy to add more fruits and veggies the second week on. Before you know it, you will reach the goal of the five servings our bodies need daily. Remember, listen to your body and it will then begin to desire healthier foods.

Learn to branch out from the typical apples, bananas and grapes and try mangos, pineapple, kiwi or papaya. Also, add grated carrots and zucchini to your pasta sauce, meatloaf, chili or soup.

Tell me, are you feeling healthier already? I bet it gives you some sneaky tips to enhance the child's plate. If I remember correctly, we were taught this in health classes beginning in the seventh grade. How could we have forgotten so soon?

So have we got the formula down? Eat wisely, exercise and don't forget the massages. I guarantee you'll even breathe better.

Charles Colson is an area hair stylist and registered massage therapist. You may email hair or massage questions to or call 361-575-5331.



Powered By AffectDigitalMedia