Headaches at the back of the head are often caused by tension as well as Trigger Points in the neck area, which you can relieve yourself.
A self-massage can help eliminate these tensions and Trigger Points and reduce pain.
We will get started right away in the next section. You will learn which muscles are most often responsible for these headaches and how you should massage them.
First, we will focus on the muscles that are often the main triggers of pain. By doing so you can expect a genereal reduction in pain.
To start with, I would recommend you only perform steps 1 and 2 of the self-massage for a period ranging from several days up to one week.
If you notice the pain has eased a bit, but don’t see any more progress, then continue with the steps that follow.
Muscles: Trapezius, sternocleidomastoid
Do not be frightened by the terms mentioned here. You will understand where and how you need to massage yourself. And that is what matters in the end!
Let’s start with your trapezius muscle. This muscle consists of three parts – the upper, middle and lower trapezius.
For the purpose at hand, only the upper trapezius is of interest because it can send pain to the back of the head in case of excessive tension.
The muscle is located at the back of your neck and you can massage it using the thumb-index technique or the pressure-motion technique.
The sternocleidomastoid is the second muscle that is most often responsible for headaches in the back of the head.
It is hard to pronounce but easy to find and massage.
This is the muscle that is apparent on the side of the neck and runs from the back of the head to the clavicle and the sternum.
You can also massage this muscle using the thumb-index technique or the pressure – motion technique.
There are two areas you need to examine. On the one hand, there is the one that goes from the sternum to the occiput, which is very easy to grasp – and on the other hand, the second one, which goes from the clavicle to the occiput. Let’s begin with the first.
If during the massage or palpation of the sternocleidomastoid you feel your pulse, that means that you are touching an artery in your neck. This is not particularly serious but it should not be massaged. Instead, let go and grab the muscle again, this time without the artery!
Feel out the tendon of the sternocleidomastoid on your sternum and try to grasp it.
This will be much easier if you try doing it a few centimetres above the muscle because it is larger and easier to locate there.
From here you can easily follow it up to the back of the head.
It is this muscle area in particular that causes pain in the back of the head.
To feel the other part of the muscle, place your fingers in the first third of the collarbone and try to grasp the muscle on the side of your neck using your hands like pliers to grip it.
Muscles: Semispinalis capitis and cervical, Suboccipitales, splenius cervicis
Let’s continue with the area behind the neck and at the nape.
These areas can be wonderfully massaged with the Trigger Fairy or a massage ball.
The advantage of the Trigger Fairy is that you can massage your neck more accurately than with a ball; you can do it while sitting and spare your fingers the strain—contrary to a self massage with your hands.
For those of you who do not have a massage ball or Trigger Fairy, below you will find instruction on how to do the massage with your fingers.
Here, precise massage strokes or the pressure-motion technique is used.
Remark: Like always when massaging the neck, start cautiously and only increase the pressure and duration of the massage when you are familiar with your body’s reactions to the massage.
How is your headache in the back of the head doing? Try to feel if the massage already had some positive effect.
Here you will be working the same areas as those in step 2. However, here I will be showing you how to do it with your hands. The massage technique I recommend for this is the pressure-motion technique.
You can work very precisely with the hands, apply pressure where needed and focus on small areas.
However, fingers get tired quickly, so you should take short breaks regularly.
In addition, the massage is not as relaxing as with a massage tool, because you have to actively apply pressure with your arms and fingers.
Shape your hand like a shovel and press on the neck muscles with your fingertips. Look for sensitive spots.
Once you find one, stay there, keep applying pressure and make small “yes-no” head movements.
The pain will vary during these movements. Focus primarily on sensitive spots caused by the movements without increasing the pain.
Tilt your head forward and place your index finger at the top-most area next to the cervical spine - towards the centre, you will feel a ligament that runs on your cervical spine, and right next to it you can feel a small but clear depression.
From here, move your finger approximately 2- 3 centimetres to the side.
Look for a small hollow/depression in this area. You will have to search a bit to be able to find it.
Once you have found it, look for sensitive spots by pressing on it.
Here, there is a point of the occipital muscle that contributes to headache at the back of the head. The muscle itself is so thin that you will not feel it. What you will feel though is its sensitivity when it is excessively tight.
If this muscle/point is painful, then support your hand with your free hand and massage it a few times using the finger technique.
The temporalis is a thin muscle that stabilises and closes your jaw.
It is flat and forms an arc from the front to just behind your ear. It is the part in the rear that you are interested in since it can cause headaches in the back of the head, if trigger points are present.
Massage the area above and behind the ear with the finger technique, looking for sensitive spots.
To relax the muscle, open your mouth a bit. 15 massage strokes are sufficient for one session.
To spare your fingers, I recommend you to use your free hand to support the hand doing the massage.
In the image on the right I’m on the rearmost portion of the temporal muscle! And remember to pay attention to the area above your ear.
You can also relax the temporal muscle using the pressure-motion technique.
This muscle is located below your chin and jaw. It is the area below your chin that we are interested in since it is tension in this area that cause or can contribute to headaches at the rear of the head.
Massage the digastricus using the pressure-motion or finger technique.
Important! Where has the massage helped you the most, and where the least?
Which muscles were easy to work with and with which ones did you have difficulties?
Keep reviewing your massage and experiment with the position of the fingers. Proficiency comes with time.
The methods presented here for relieving headaches in the back of the head are very effective, but only produce results when done correctly.
Of course, it will take time to learn how to properly massage all of the muscles presented. But it will be worth it in the end.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a speedy recovery.