Friday, June 28, 2013

Raise the Roof for Occipitofrontalis!

Those who have had facial massage know that pressure to the base of the skull at the back and across the eyebrows is otherworldly good.  Did you also know that those areas are parts of the same muscle, called Occipitalis or Occipitofrontalis? 
Imagine a wide band stretching across the top of your skull between these two points.  As you picture it, raise and lower your eyebrows a few times.  That is the main action of this muscle, and you may notice that a lot of the contraction comes from the back of the head.  It is responsible for a great deal of facial expression.  Ever had a “phony smile” headache?  I have. 
Since nearly 100% of my massage clients experience tension at those points, I began to wonder, what are some things we all share in daily modern life that may contribute? 
Here’s what I came up with.
-I facetiously referred to “phony smile” headache, but our face IS a mask to the world.  You’d be surprised how hard it is to let go of “appropriate” facial expressions – even while sleeping!  Hey, your face needs a night off.
-Look down at your phone or computer, look up at the world, squint to refocus, repeat – about a hundred times per day.  Each time you do this, you are contracting this muscle.  Leapin’ caterpillars, Batman!  Those babies are tired.
-It’s all connected, right?  If you have tense shoulder muscles (particularly trapezius) that also originate at the base of the skull, where are you logically going to feel that lack of slack?
Great news! - A good massage and a reevaluation of your posture and daily habits can do wonders.  As a therapist, it is very satisfying to see the blissful and lasting changes that come over a person with facial massage.   Please insist on attention to these areas at your next appointment with your Licensed Massage Therapist.

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