The end of 20 years of headaches


Daily Headaches Caused by Daily Anxiety


Back in 1989, I had just started working on my own.
My first client was in my hometown of Veroia, Greece. She was a successful private school owner, together with her husband. She was a high achiever, what we used to call a type-A personality.
But her tense daily routine had taken a toll. She had been suffering from daily headaches, for the past 20 years. Her quality of life was bad, to say the least.

Starting my career as a self-employed massage therapist with her, was a challenge.
I had recently -during my internship with a chiropractor- developed a technique that I later named the Functional Muscle Manipulation.
The lady had tried everything she could find -medical or alternative- with no luck. It was time to put the FMM to a big test.

After just a few sessions, her headaches were under control. The pause of her headaches was a revelation to me, as much as it was to her. The whole therapy was 15 sessions. We stopped when the improvement lasted for a few weeks without the need for sessions. By the end she was completely free of headaches.


Lasting Cure for Headaches and Migraines

Woman suffering from headaches

Woman with headaches

I called her about 2 years later, to hear from her. There was an awkward moment on the phone, when she mistook me for her doctor and was telling me about a current health issue she had. I had to explain who I was and remind her of the therapy.
She finally said: “ohhh, the headaches! I had forgotten about them!”
My initial discomfort of not being remembered, was replaced by a feeling of elation and deep gratification.During the following decades, I treated a few thousands of people. Dozens of them were chronic headaches or migraines sufferers. What had happened with her and with the majority of cases over the years?


Tension: A usual cause of headaches and migraines

Her problem was caused by intense and chronic contraction of her upper neck muscles, that she did not have control of, since it was caused by a subconscious sympathetic reaction (fight or flight). Her sympathetic nervous system was perceiving her business struggle as a constant threat, to which it was reacting by making her breathe shallow and keep her neck in a very tight, defensive state.

The intensely contracted deep muscles of the neck apparently irritated some of the C1-C4 nerves, which can cause headaches and/or migraines among other symptoms*.


Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, Massage, don’t heal headaches

Deep tissue, Myofascial Release and other techniques try to forcefully soften up tight muscles, or ‘break down scar tissue’ or adhesions. The body perceives that as an attack and the sympethetic nervous system causes it to contract even more. The Functional Muscle Manipulation works with the autonomic nervous system instead of against it, convincing it that it’s safe to let go. The deep cervical muscles -in this case- released their pressure on the cervical nerves. The body self-healed.

In parallel, we help the patient become aware of the way they involuntarily contract. We teach them how to breathe in a natural, very relieving way, and release those muscles.
In the case of this lady, as in all other FMM treatments, she made the therapeutic process her own. From then on, she could feel when she was reacting to life’s challenges by contracting and holding her breath. She could self-regulate by breathing and releasing, and sustain the results for a long, long time.


Therapy for headaches, not just treatment

Having her as my first patient set the very high standards that I kept in all my career.
Functional Muscle Manipulation therapists never think of our work as therapy, unless the patient completely overcomes the symptoms they came to us for, find full functionality and quality of life, and stay well for years after our work with them.

*Ruth Jackson, MD, 2010. “The Classic: The cervical Syndrome“. National Library of Medicine.