Coping, Treatment

Therapeutic Caffeine Before a Massage

In a normal world, deliberately drinking caffeine before a massage is illogical. Yet it was the only way I enjoyed the massage I treated myself to yesterday.

Without much time between yoga and the massage I had scheduled yesterday, I went to Whole Foods for Kerrie-safe tuna salad. Instead of the usual kind that mom makes (which has none of my triggers), they had a fancy cranberry one with tuna, canola oil mayo, cranberries and red onion.

Halfway through, a large almond sliver reared its ugly head. Hoping it was an anomaly, a look through the remaining salad revealed tiny bits of almond throughout. That’s when I realized that Whole Foods always has two tuna salads — the kind that mom makes and a delicious-sounding-but-forbidden cranberry and almond one.

Whether or not the unknown amount of almond I had eaten would have triggered a migraine, I couldn’t risk it. Thankfully I live in Seattle and could get iced tea at the coffeehouse next door to the spa. Dressed in a robe and slippers in the serene environment, I sure felt strange with caffeinated tea in my hand.

I didn’t get a migraine. I also didn’t exactly relax during the massage. Instead I enjoyed figuring out which muscles the massage therapist was working on and why. And contemplated a career as a massage therapist for people with headache disorders.

6 thoughts on “Therapeutic Caffeine Before a Massage”

  1. I have experienced migraine headaches for the majority of my adult life and I have tried various remedies including Mag-Ox coupled with Excedrin (which has caffeine in it)and Imitrex. I finally tried something called Indian Head Massage @ the local spa and believe me when I say, that helped me so much. I have been going bi-weekly now for the past 2 years and (unless he’s on vacation) been having the same person perform this on me. I won’t go into the specifics on what this massage entails, but believe me when I say that caffeine is good for relaxing the temples when sipped in dark teas such as English or Irish Breakfast.

  2. Two things: If you are going to use caffeine for your headaches, use it early. It is a vasoconstrictor, and will be maximally effective if used early in the attack.

    And–massage for headache is great. I just found a great massage therapist for my office, and am really excited about this addition to our clinic.

    Thanks for the tip.

    I was just thinking that I’d like to see more headache clinics have massage therapists on staff. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a good one.

    Take care,

  3. I for one am a HUGE believer in theraputic massage for migraine, I credit that as one of the big reasons I don’t get my headaches daily anymore…

    Because my headaches get usually get worse when I lie down, massage has never been that helpful for me. Tuesday’s appointment was for a huge knot in my neck.

    But, I just made an appointment with someone who focuses on injuries and therapeutic massage (instead of just relaxation). I’ll see her next Friday and I have high hopes for the appointment.

    Just read your blog — I’m so excited for you! Best wishes during your delivery. You’re in my thoughts.


  4. Kerrie, I’m a therapeutic caffeine user too, and have a question.

    When do you use the caffeine? At the first signs of a migraine? Or later on? I usually wait until I know the painkillers aren’t going to touch the pain, then head into caffeine territory, after which it’s usually aborted fairly quickly (within an hour or two). I wonder if it might be more useful to try it earlier on in an attack, but also worry about any potential caffeine induced anxiety (anxiety is a big feature of my migraines, so I try and avoid it if at all possible), so usually wait until I know I have no other option.

    Just wondered what your thoughts are on the timing.

    This is the first time I did it when I thought a migraine would come on. I usually wait until the migraine is unbearable. I try to save it for when we have plans, but I’ve been using it a little more lately — thinking that two or three times a week is reasonable. It doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to, so I may cut back again.


  5. When you start up your “massages for headache patients” business, I will be the first client at the door.
    Hopefully your next massage will be more enjoyable!



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