Video Course: Neuromuscular Considerations in Cervicogenic Headaches

Douglas Nelson

Given the prevalence of headaches, it is likely that seeing clients who present with headache pain will be a common occurrence for massage therapists. There are, however, multiple types of headaches with varying pathophysiological presentations. This course from Doug Nelson will deepen your understanding of cervicogenic headaches, what they are, and how to create an effective treatment strategy. This course was featured during the 2024 ABMP CE Summit: Headaches.

This course has closed captioning. Click "cc" on the video player to view.

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
  • Cervicogenic headaches
  • Assessment: seated and supine
  • Anatomy: cervical spine
  • Hands-on techniques
    • Cervical extension
    • Lateral rotation
    • Shifting technique
    • C1–C2 technique
    • Sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, and rectus capitis posterior minor
    • Levator scapula in sidelying position
Learning Objectives

Having completed this online course video, the learner will be able to demonstrate an understanding of cervicogenic headaches, their possible causes, the anatomy of the cervical spine, and several hands-on techniques to use with clients with cervicogenic headaches.

Douglas Nelson

Douglas Nelson, BCMTB began his career in massage therapy in 1977.  His particular interest has been the role of soft tissue in performance, serving as a neuromuscular consultant to teams in the NBA and NFL, in addition to dance companies and high level musicians. He sees over 1,200 clients annually, is the owner of BodyWork Associates (a 22-therapist massage therapy clinic in Champaign, IL), the author of three books, and a columnist for Massage & Bodywork magazine. He is the founder of NMT MidWest, Inc., providing training in Precision Neuromuscular Therapy across the US. Learn more at

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.


"Very informative. Loved the clear headrest so we could see his hand positions and techniques on the posterior neck from underneath."

"Excellent instructor and topic. The material was clear, systematic, detailed, and illustrated well to allow me use the techniques and know when to do so.  A+!"

"Doug Nelson's instruction is the very best in the field. Thank you, Doug!"

"I am very excited to utilize these techniques with several of my clients. Thank you for the fabulous information!"