Work these seven pressure points to naturally relieve your next tension headache.
The last thing you want to do when you have a pounding headache or migraine is apply more pressure – right? Well, it turns out that pressure may actually be a wonderful thing when it comes relieving headache pain.
Stimulating certain pressure points on your hands, neck and shoulders is called acupressure, and can be used to relieve pain and tension. Here’s how it works.
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What Are Pressure Points and How Do They Work?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, pressure points are sensitive areas that lie along channels or lines of energy in our bodies, called meridians. These meridians help regulate flow of qi, or life energy, that is present in all of us. It’s kind of like an energetic electrical system that keeps our bodies humming along. (1, 2)
When qi gets blocked along your meridian lines (say, from stress or sickness), you can stimulate specific pressure points to help unblock those energy channels, relieving pain and tension.
The practice of unblocking and optimizing pressure points to release energy is called acupressure. It involves using different levels of touch on pressure points to stimulate the release of endorphins and chemicals that relax your body and ease tension. (3)
Headaches and Pressure Points
Studies show that acupressure can help relieve headache pain, which is a real lifesaver when you’re trying to avoid using over-the-counter pain medications.
One study found that one month of acupressure treatment was more effective in reducing chronic headache pain than one month of muscle relaxant treatment, and that the pain-relieving effect remained six months after the treatment. (4)
Other studies found that acupressure can even help treat the nausea that often comes with having a migraine headache. (5)
The positive effect of acupressure is thought to be caused by the release of tension in specific areas of your body that can trigger tension and migraine headaches. When your muscles and pressure points relax and “open”, nutrients that may have been cut off by tense areas can also flow again, which can help relieve headaches as well. (6)
7 Pressure Points to Relieve Your Next Headache
Below are several pressure points you can easily stimulate to help relieve your headache pain. Most of these stem from Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure, and massage techniques that have been used for thousands of years. (7)
The next time your head is pounding, try these moves.
1. Third Eye Pressure Point
Located between your eyebrows, the third eye pressure point is a great starting point for reducing a tension headache. Massaging this area is especially effective if your headache is being triggered by staring at a screen or straining your eyes for too long.
- Using your index and pointer finger, press the space between your eyebrows and lightly massage for one minute.
2. Drilling Bamboo Pressure Points
These pressure points are located on either side of the bridge of your nose, just below the start of your eyebrows. Pressing on them can help ease sinus pressure and eye strain headaches.
- Use your index fingers to apply firm pressure to both points at once and hold for 10 seconds.
- Release and repeat 5-10 times.
3. Gates of Consciousness Pressure Point
Massaging these points on the back of your neck can help relieve tension headaches by helping your neck relax.
- Place your index and middle fingers of either hand on the base of your skull, in the hollow area between your two neck muscles.
- Press firmly upward on both sides simultaneously for 10-15 seconds, then release. Repeat until you feel your neck relax.
4. Wind Mansion Pressure Point
The wind mansion pressure point is another great pressure point for headaches caused by a tense or stiff neck.
- Place your hand on the back of your head and use your thumb to find the hollow under the base of your skull.
- Press and hold for one minute.
5. Shoulder Well Pressure Point
This pressure point helps ease shoulder and neck tension, which can reduce the severity of a tension headache.
- Place your thumb on the top of your shoulder, halfway between your shoulder joint and the base of your neck.
- Apply firm, circular pressure to this point for one minute, then switch and repeat on the other side.
6. Union Valley
Use this pressure point on your hand to reduce tension throughout the body, including the neck and shoulders.
- Firmly pinch the webbing between your thumb and index finger using your opposite hand for 10 seconds.
- Now, massage small circles over the area in one direction for 10 seconds. Reverse directions and massage for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat on your other hand.
7. Facial Beauty Pressure Points
These pressure points can help relieve headaches caused by sinus pain and pressure, as well as stiffness in your jaw that can cause tension headaches.
- Place both index fingers at the bottom of your cheekbones alongside each of your nostrils.
- Press and hold for one minute.
The Bottom Line
Acupressure has been used for thousands of years as an alternative therapy for providing pain relief. These specific points for headache pain might even work better than some muscle relaxants! (8)
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