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Progressive Relaxation Techniques for Migraine Pain Management

What is progressive relaxation therapy?

Progressive relaxation is another extremely easy-to-master and simple technique which is beneficial for migraine pain management. This therapy involves the systematic contraction and relaxation of the muscles in a steady rhythmic fashion, beginning from the tip of the toes and progressing upward to involve all the small and large muscle groups of the body. The technique aims at relaxing the mind by relaxing the body. The combination of this technique with the deep breathing technique can help in improving overall function and reducing migraine headache pain.

Progressive relaxation technique guide

  1. To begin, make sure you are in a quiet, calm, cool and quite dark environment.
  2. While either lying down or sitting comfortably, imagine that the muscles in your feet and toes are contracting for a series of seconds. Very, very slowly let the muscles relax.
  3. Next, continue with the muscles in the calves and have them contract for a series of seconds before slowly letting them to relax.
  4. Repeat this process in a slow and steady manner and by involving the muscles of the thigh, the buttocks, the abdominal area and the chest wall.
  5. Next, contract then relax the fingertips, the hands, the forearms and the arms.
  6. Then contract and then relax the muscles in the shoulders and the neck and finally the muscles of the face, jaw and the back of the head.
  7. During the contraction phase, focus your attention on each muscle group for a series of 10 to 20 seconds and for the relaxation phase, focus ultimately for 30 to 60 seconds. It is important to focus intensely on the muscle group that is involved as this intense concentration can often block out some of the migraine pain messages.

While this progressive relaxation technique rarely provides immediate and fast relief for migraine headache pain, it does benefit those who practice it in being able to cope with the severity and discomfort of a migraine attack. Relaxing the muscles of the body, especially the head and neck, can help in reducing the severity of a secondary headache disorder such as muscle contraction headaches.

This technique is best utilized when practiced repeatedly prior to the migraine headache hence progressive relaxation, similar to the deep breathing technique, should be practiced and mastered prior to using it for a migraine therapy.

Other benefits of progressive relaxation techniques

Besides being effective for migraine and tension headaches, other benefits of progressive relaxation therapy includes:

  • Treating backaches effectively
  • Increasing self-esteem and self-concept
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Reducing depression
  • Helping insomniacs to sleep well
  • Helping those suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse