Many clients seek out massage therapy as a treatment for headaches. What type of massage is most effective for treating these kinds of headaches? New research gives us some clues.
A 2012 study called "Treatment of Tension-type Headache With Articulatory and Suboccipital Soft Tissue Therapy" was performed by Dr. Gemma V. Espí Lopez at the University of Valencia, Spain. This was a double-blind study, a kind of clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of a treatment by comparing it to other interventions and to a control group which receives no treatment. In this particular study, 84 patients were divided into four groups: one group received a type of manual therapy called suboccipital soft tissue inhibition, another group received occiput-atlas-axis global manipulation, a third group received both types of treatment, and a fourth group (the control) did not receive either. Over the course of eight weeks, outcomes were measured including range of motion, impact of the headache, and other headache related symptoms.
The study concluded that both types of manual therapy had measurably positive impacts on headache symptoms. However, the impact of the occiput-atlas-axis therapy and combined therapy was observably stronger than the suboccipital soft tissue inhibition alone.
Scientific research into the impact of massage therapy can help improve outcomes by giving massage therapists more detailed information about how best to treat our clients, as well as helping us better educate our clients about the benefits and limitations of massage therapy. You can read more about the study discussed in this post here.