Aloha Sports Chiropractic

Trigger Point Massage for Migraines Relief

Migraine is a severe headache that can be challenging for those who suffer from them. This condition has a substantial impact on a person’s capacity to deal with and complete daily duties. Identifying and treating migraine triggers is an essential part of managing this painful headache.

Trigger point massage therapy uses pressure on muscle knots to reduce pain in the body. This type of massage may help to alleviate migraine symptoms by releasing tight muscles often associated with migraine attacks. This low-risk complementary therapy could provide a drug-free way to manage migraines.

How Trigger Points Contribute to Migraines

Trigger points are irritable, tight knots that form in muscle tissue. These hyperirritable spots emit pain signals that might spread to other body parts. Trigger points can be created in the neck, shoulders, and head, causing headaches.

According to NCBI, myofascial trigger points have a crucial role in migraine and tension headaches. As a trigger point therapist, I have seen active trigger points in the neck and shoulders of patients having a migraine attack. Compressing these trigger points can recreate the exact pain patterns associated with migraines.

It demonstrates that active trigger points directly contribute to the characteristics and intensity of migraine headaches. Treating these sensitive areas with trigger point massage can provide powerful, natural migraine relief.

Trigger Point Therapy for Tension and Cervicogenic Headaches

Trigger point massage is highly effective for tension headaches and cervical-genic headaches.

  1. Tension headaches, sometimes called muscle contraction headaches, involve tightness or tenderness in the shoulders, neck, and head. Trigger points in the upper trapezius, occipitalis, temporalis, and sternocleidomastoid muscles often cause them.
  2. Cervicogenic headaches are defined as head discomfort that originates in the neck. Problems in the neck, such as irritation or issues with the vertebrae, discs, nerves, or tissues, can cause these headaches. Trigger points in the suboccipital, upper trapezius, semispinalis capitis, and sternocleidomastoid muscles can contribute to cervicogenic pain.

As a trigger point therapist, I focus on detecting and releasing these trigger points to alleviate headache symptoms. Removing overactive muscle knots increases blood flow, reduces pain signaling, and restores normal neuromuscular function.

Research shows that regular trigger point massage can significantly reduce the intensity and frequency of tension and cervical-genic headaches.

Related, Is Trigger Point Therapy Effective?

Strategic Approach of Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point therapy utilizes a strategic, multilevel approach that sets it apart from traditional massage. 

A typical entire body or Swedish massage solely aims to relax the body. Relaxation massage feels good temporarily but doesn’t fix the leading cause of pain: tight muscles and trigger points.

In contrast, trigger point therapy systematically targets irritated knotted areas in muscles.  This strategic approach rebalances the neuromuscular system to achieve lasting pain relief. 

In my practice, I have seen many patients get better in a few trigger point massage sessions that lead to substantial improvement. Then, periodic maintenance sessions keep tension from reaccumulating.

Personalized Protocols I Employ to Treat Migraines

I use different techniques to help with migraines for each client as a trigger point therapist. My strategic approach addresses the root causes of migraine pain through neuromuscular rebalancing.

Over years of experience, I have developed specialized protocols that successfully reduce migraine frequency, intensity, and related symptoms.

The techniques I employ include:

1. Sustained Pressure to Suboccipital Muscles

The suboccipital muscles lie at the base of the skull. These muscles often develop trigger points that can contribute to migraine pain. I apply sustained pressure to knots in the suboccipital muscles using my fingertips or knuckles. It may feel uncomfortable initially, but it helps to break up muscle tension.

As the knots are released, clients report decreased head pain and neck tension. I customize the pressure based on your comfort level and hold for 30-90 seconds. Addressing suboccipital trigger points can provide substantial relief by easing spasms and tension in these small but significant muscles.

2. Frontal Lobe Relief with Occipital Ridge Techniques

The occipital ridge runs down the back of the skull. Gentle friction techniques applied across this area can help calm the brain’s frontal lobe, which plays a role in migraine pain. I use cross-fibre friction with light to deeper pressure based on your feedback.

Spreading relaxing techniques over the occipital ridge may also relieve sinus pressure by decreasing trigeminal nerve irritation. It can ease multiple migraine trigger points.

3. Resetting Neck Muscles with Stretches

It is common for the neck muscles to develop tension that can pull on nerves and contribute to migraines. I lead clients through a sequence of gentle neck stretches via tools.

These tools help straighten the neck bones, relax tight muscles, improve movement, and reset pain signals in the neck and head. I customize stretches based on your needs, including lateral neck tilts, chin tucks, and gentle rotations to ease the strain.

4. Compressing Trapezius and Sternocleidomastoid Knots

The trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles in the neck and upper back tend to develop trigger points. I use static compression techniques, leaning into knots in these muscles, often with the forearm or elbow.

This pressure helps muscle spasms release, decreasing referred pain that can travel into the head. I also incorporate neck stretches after compressing knots to help retrain the muscles.

5. Soothing Temporalis Trigger Points

The temporalis muscles in the temples are common culprits in migraine pain. I use ischemic pressure directly on temporalis trigger points to help relax these muscles.

It involves a sustained pinpoint pressure that can initially feel sensitive. As the trigger point releases, clients report decreased headache pain and jaw tension. For some, this temporal relief also improves vision disturbances related to light sensitivity.

6. Tension Relief through Forehead Techniques

Gentle stretching and stroking motions across the forehead can ease multiple migraine trigger points. I perform these techniques in a flowing pattern to relax the frontal lobe muscles.

Cross-fiber friction along the hairline also helps ease tension in the occipitofrontalis muscles. Finally, gentle circular motions across the temples reduce temporal muscle tightness. These customized forehead techniques provide soothing migraine relief.

7. Upper Body Trigger Points Involved in Migraines

The pectoral and upper back muscles often develop trigger points that can contribute to migraine intensity. I focus on releasing knots in your shoulders, chest, and upper trapezius area using compression and other techniques. 

Relaxing the upper body relieves overall spinal tension tied to headaches. Combining these approaches addresses body-wide trigger points for optimal migraine relief.

8. Temperature Modulation for Migraine Support

Applying targeted heat or ice is a valuable technique for easing migraine symptoms. The direct temperature change helps muscles relax, which decreases tension and associated pain. I use temperature treatments to help you feel better.

For your neck and shoulders, I may use warm compresses. For your forehead or temples, I may use cold packs. I choose the treatment based on what you need. Incorporating temperature modulation enhances the effects of hands-on trigger point techniques for migraine relief and prevention.

Related, How Does Trigger Point Massage Work?

Benefits of Trigger Point Massage for Migraines

As demonstrated by research, trigger point massage offers multiple benefits for migraine sufferers. These include,

1. Reduces Headache Intensity & Frequency

Studies show trigger point therapy significantly decreases migraine pain levels. It also reduces how often migraine attacks occur. For example, a clinical trial found trigger point therapy reduced migraine frequency by 40-50% for several participants.

2. Alleviates Additional Migraine Symptoms

  • The targeted pressure of trigger point massage can also relieve migraine symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light/sound. Compressing trigger points prompts a cascade effect where the body relaxes. It lowers stress hormones that exacerbate headaches and cause these related migraine problems.

3. Breaks the Migraine Cycle

  • When migraines repeat consistently, it can seem like an endless cycle. The neck tenses up during an attack, which leads to more trigger points and pain. Trigger point therapy interrupts this pattern and prevents muscles from hyper contracting. It allows normal neuromuscular signaling to resume.

4. Enhances Quality of Life

Of course, less severe, frequent migraines greatly enhance your ability to work and fully participate in activities. With fewer migraines attacks, you can care for your family, do well at work, and stay active without pain.

5. Non-Pharmacological Treatment

Trigger Point Massage for Migraines
  • Patients often rely too heavily on medications to manage migraines. Trigger point massage provides relief without any side effects or risks inherent in long-term drug usage. Using massage therapy and medications together can enhance outcomes. Often, patients can reduce medication intake under professional guidance.

Don’t Let Persistent Migraine Pain Hold Your Back?

Book trigger point therapy with us and get drug-free relief from migraine first hand.

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Wrapping Up

Trigger point therapy is an efficient treatment for migraine headaches. Finding and releasing trigger points in the neck, head, and shoulder muscles can help relieve pain.

Regular massages on trigger points can help reduce migraines, lessen headache pain, relieve nausea, and improve quality of life. Self-massage techniques can also halt headaches between professional appointments.

I highly encourage you to leverage trigger point therapy to manage migraines better. You can break the migraine cycle within a few visits and reclaim your days. Contact me today to discuss customized therapy that finally provides the relief you seek.


Meet Dr. Craig Eymann, a dedicated chiropractor and yoga enthusiast with over two decades of expertise in spinal health, sports chiropractic, and personalized care, prioritizing misalignment correction for swift injury resolution.

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