Video Course: Headache Essentials: The Foundation for Massage Therapists

Whitney Lowe, Ruth Werner

Headaches are one of the most common of all human experiences. Skilled manual therapy can often make a big difference in headaches, even in a short time. But unskilled manual therapy may have minimal impact, or it could even make things worse. Join musculoskeletal and pathology experts Whitney Lowe and Ruth Werner to learn the anatomy of the head and neck, how headaches occur, the different types of headaches, and considerations for massage therapists. This course was featured during the 2024 ABMP CE Summit: Headaches.

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NOTE: If you attended this course during the ABMP CE Summit: Headaches event, and the course status is showing as "Purchased," and you do not see the quiz on the page under "CE Questions," please refresh your internet page

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Course Outline
  • Part 1: Whitney Lowe: Anatomical structures and biomechanical considerations
  • Cranial region: bones and joints, spinal cord, myodural bridge, C1-C2 joint
  • Cervical region: muscles, arterial structures, regional muscles, regional neural structures
  • Part 2: Ruth Werner: Pathophysiological considerations
  • Definition
  • Demographics
  • Pathophysiology: primary headaches
  • Types of primary headaches: tension-type, migraine, cluster
  • Secondary headaches
  • Treatment options: primary headaches
  • Massage considerations
Learning Objectives

Having completed this online course video, the learner will be able to demonstrate an understanding of headaches including the anatomy, causes, different types of headaches, and considerations for massage therapists.

After completing this online course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the anatomical structures that may be involved in headaches.
  • Describe how imbalances between anatomical structures may cause headaches.
  • List the classes of headaches, with emphasis on the relationships between tension-type and migraine headaches.
  • Recognize when headaches are a sign of a serious medical problem or emergency.
Whitney Lowe

Whitney Lowe directs the Academy of Clinical Massage which provides advanced clinical massage continuing education as well as programs for schools. His system of orthopedic massage is designed for massage therapists seeking to meet the needs of clients with chronic pain or sports, recreational, or occupational pain and injury conditions. He is the author of Orthopedic Assessment in Massage Therapy and his articles appear regularly in professional peer-reviewed journals, Massage & Bodywork magazine, and other industry publications. Learn more about his workshops and online courses at

Ruth Werner

Ruth Werner is an award-winning educator, writer, and retired massage therapist with a passionate interest in massage therapy research and the role of bodywork for people who struggle with health. Her groundbreaking textbook, A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology is now in its 7th edition and is published by Books of Discovery. Werner is a columnist for Massage & Bodywork magazine and Massage New Zealand.  She teaches continuing education workshops all over the world and hosts the “I Have a Client Who …” podcast on the ABMP Podcast Network. Reach her at www.ruthwerner.comLearn more from Ruth Werner through ABMP's Pocket Pathology quick-reference app with key information on nearly 200 common pathologies!

Topics and Techniques

This online massage therapy CE course is available to you on demand to access, learn, and earn CE whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for you!


Visit the ABMP Education Center FAQ page for a full list of resources.

Q: Is this massage therapy CE course approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) for CE credit?
A: Yes! All of the courses are approved under ABMP’s NCBTMB Approved Provider account (451086-09).

Q: How do I earn a CE certificate for this video-based course?
A: After you complete the course video, a quiz will appear on the page. Earn a CE certificate by scoring 70% or higher on the course quiz.

Q: How do I access my CE certificates?
A: CE certificates are available on your “My CE Transcripts” page and on the course page. Visit your “My CE Transcript” page by clicking “My CE” on the navigation bar at the top of your screen.

Copyright Statement
All of the ABMP courses contain materials that are proprietary to ABMP. None of the course material may be used without the express written permission of ABMP. Materials may include, but are not limited to, video, audio, images, documents, and slides. Course materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course and may not be shared publicly or shown to groups. Unauthorized retention, duplication, distribution, or modification of copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited by law. Check your state’s defined scope of practice for massage therapy before practicing any new modalities or techniques.


"The entire presentation was so useful. Both instructors have so much to offer and taught it in a way I can grasp."

"It was an absolute honor to take this class from two legends in the field."

"Even after 40 years in the profession, I learned new and important information Thank you!"