Physical therapists often work with people to help relieve headaches and migraines. When I was working in insurance-based clinics, we tended to focus completely on the upper body, because if we worked on anything lower than the mid-back the insurance company may balk at the fact that we were going too far from the pain. I had some good results with headache and migraine treatment in the past, but I feel that my results have really improved since I started doing a more holistic evaluation and treatment. I’ve found so often that if people have pain in their head and neck, they usually have dysfunction occurring in their low back and pelvic areas. With John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (JFBMFR), I often start in a place where I see definite postural abnormalities – in the case of headaches and migraines we often see poor neck posture, forward head position, rounded shoulders – so this seems like the obvious place to start. Almost every time as I follow the body’s responses to the treatment, I end up down in the pelvis and low back area. I am not the only one – in JFBMFR they often talk about how connected the cranium (head) and the pelvis are. Have you ever heard of craniosacral therapy? Yep – same thing. We are very connected throughout our spine, the spinal cord, the canal and sheath that enclose the cerebrospinal fluid, and many muscles that traverse this entire length of the trunk. Even if the muscles do not go all of the way, the ways that they tighten, pull and compensate can completely affect the entire trunk.
Another interesting thing that I have recently learned (due to my current pregnancy), is when women are having a difficult time in labor and their pelvis is not opening or accommodating to the path of the baby, it is because they are tense in their jaw! One of the tips to help progress labor is to relax your jaw, loosen your lips and breath out while flapping your lips (like a horse). I have seen many instances (now that I am research laboring techniques) where a woman was struggling for hours at the end-stages of labor and as soon as they had her do this motion, or kiss her significant other (also a way to loosen up the jaw) labor really started to progress and the pelvis became much more accommodating.
Wow! No wonder I have been having much better results with headache and migraine relief now that I am not limited by insurance companies and I can treat whatever and wherever I want on the body. I’ve learned more and more throughout my career that the body is a very intricate and connected structure, and to tell you the truth, it’s not always logical. Through science, we have been able to find out so much about the body, it’s anatomy and function, yet scientist just reported that they found a “new body part” about 1 month ago. There is so much yet unknown! And do you know what this new body part is? FASCIA! They’ve figured out that they think that this is how things are spread throughout the body (like cancer), but my instructors have known for years that fascia is another one of the body’s communication systems. If we ignore this system that is intertwined between all of our tissues, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, etc….we are doing ourselves and our patients a big disservice.
So moral of the story – if you or someone you know suffer from headaches and migraines and have tried other forms of therapy and bodywork that haven’t seemed to help, have them try John F. Barnes Myofascial Release – it is a game-changer!