Get Fast Relief from Headaches with Acupressure
I had my first real nasty headache when I was 13.
I was at the library browsing through a graphic novel when I noticed I couldn’t make out the pictures on the page. It was as if there were holes in my eyes—blurry spots where every line, colour, and shape melted together into a fuzzy white.
I rubbed my eyes, thinking it was dust, but it didn’t help. Soon, I began to see bright, squiggly lines in the corners of my eyes. They danced like the filaments of light you’d see in one of those plasma balls at the science center.
Then a wave of nausea hit me. HARD. I ran to the library bathroom just in time to bury my face in the toilet.
By the time my dad picked me up, my vision was fine again, but I had developed a searing pain on the left side of my head.
“It’s probably the flu.” He said on our way home. But I was skeptical. Being the dramatic hypochondriac I was at the time, I was convinced I had a tumour inside my head.
It wasn’t a brain tumour of course.
“It’s called a migraine.” My family doctor told me when I went to see her a few days later. It wasn’t long before I had another one of these bizarre migraine episodes. And then another one. I continued to have migraines throughout my teenage years. Not very often, but enough to impact my life.
And migraine was not the only kind of headache that plagued me. Cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches, I’ve had them all. There was a period in my life (about 2 years after my bone marrow transplant) where headaches and neck pain dominated my life. For months, I pretty much walked around with a stiff neck and a chronic pain in my head every day.
Thankfully, I don’t often get headaches anymore. The tension in my neck and shoulders, which came hand in hand with these headaches, are also much better.
What Helped Me Get Rid of My Headaches?
Among other things of course—which I will talk about in a future post—but today I want to focus on the topic of using acupressure for headaches and neck pain. In my opinion, it is one of the easiest, most natural method to ease pain. I can’t say enough good things about it!
So in this post, I’m going to show you 9 amazing acupressure points that can provide immediate and lasting headache and neck pain relief.
But wait! Before we go any further, I just want to get it out there that I’m not a professional acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner. I’m a self-taught holistic health enthusiast who loves to learn and try different natural remedies and I’m speaking from my own experience only. In no way should you take any information in this article as medical advice. Read my full disclaimer here.
Now let’s begin! First, let us look at what is acupressure.
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- 1. Acupressure: What is It and How Effective is it for Headaches?
- 2. Common Acupressure Tools and Techniques
- 3. 9 Acupressure Points for Headaches and Neck Pain Relief
Acupressure: What is It and How Effective is it for Headaches?
As I’ve explained in my post “Top 5 Acupressure Points for Anxiety Relief”, acupressure is an alternative medicine technique stemming from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Much like its sibling technique, acupuncture, acupressure helps restore balance to the body by stimulating particular points along our meridians. But unlike acupuncture, acupressure doesn’t require the use of needles, which makes it a safe and appealing option for beginners.
And the best thing about acupressure is that you can apply it on yourself anywhere at any time!
Although more research is needed, there are findings that suggest acupressure is effective in relieving headaches. While I can’t say acupressure works for everyone, it has been life-changing for me. Acupressure not only helped me manage pain and other headache-related symptoms such as nausea and dizziness, it’s also given me the power and the confidence to take charge of my own health.
Now that you’ve learned what acupressure is and how well it works for headaches, are you itching to give it a try?
But before I show you my favourite acupressure points for headaches and neck pain relief, let’s look at a few common acupressure tools and techniques. It’s important that you know how to massage these points so you can get all the benefits without hurting yourself (I’ve bruised myself before from applying too much pressure on one spot for too long). Acupressure should be an enjoyable experience, not an excruciating one!
Common Acupressure Tools and Techniques
What tools do you require for acupressure, you ask? Just your hands! Make sure your fingernails are kept in check though. Long nails can hinder your ability to apply the right pressure to certain points, and they hurt!
If you don’t want to use your fingers, try using a small acupressure tool like this. It’s an excellent alternative option that won’t disturb your manicure and won’t tire your fingers out either. Remember to never use any sharp objects.
Now here are a few simple techniques on how to massage acupressure points:
- You can apply firm, steady pressure on an acupressure point for 10-15 seconds at a time, release for a few seconds, and then repeat. This is an easy, basic, and effective technique.
- You can apply gentle pressure on an acupressure point and massage the point in a small, circular motion for 3-5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if it feels quite sore the first time you massage an acupressure point. That’s an indication there’s a lot of blockages around that point, and this technique is great for clearing those blockages. Remember to start gently and you can gradually increase the pressure if you’re able to tolerate it.
- You can massage the area in an up-and-down or side-to-side motion. This technique is a huge time-saver when you want to tackle a few different points around the same area of your body.
- You can tap on a point repeatedly for 1-2 minutes at a time. Tap with enough pressure so that when you stop you’ll feel a warmth radiating from the spot you’ve just tapped. But if it hurts, you’re tapping too hard! This technique is excellent for stimulating acupressure points located in areas where the skin is thinner (like around your eyes). It reduces the chance of bruising in these sensitive areas.
If you’re interested in learning more about acupressure, check out this book called “The Acupressure Atlas”. It’s a comprehensive and easy-to-read guide with loads of pictures showing you exactly where and how to massage different acupressure points in the body for various desired health effects. If you want to take charge of your own health, I suggest you keep this book handy!
9 Acupressure Points for Headaches and Neck Pain Relief
1. Shuai-Gu (Valley Lead)
Location: “Valley Lead” is located on both sides of the head, approximately 2 inches above the ear.
How to find it: Find the highest point of your ear and place your index and middle finger on top of this point. You will find “Valley Lead” at the edge of the finger on the very top, on the part of your scalp that’s directly above the highest point of your ear.
How to massage this acupressure point: Gently massage this point using a circular motion for a few minutes at a time. You can also stimulate this point—plus many surrounding points that are also beneficial for headache relief—by brushing your head with a wide-tooth comb made from natural wood.
2. He-Gu (Union Valley)
Location: The “Union Valley” acupressure point is located between the base of the thumb and the index finger, on the back of your hand.
How to find it: Press around on the fleshy web part of your hand, between your thumb and index finger. You feel where the bone connects the thumb and the index finger? “Union Valley” is right in that crevice next to the bone.
How to massage this acupressure point: Press and massage this point in a circular motion. Slowly increase in the amount of pressure you place on the point. Massage one hand for 3 minutes and switch to the other hand.
Caution: If you’re pregnant, avoid using this acupressure point. It could cause contractions in pregnant women.
3. Zan-Zhu (Bamboo Gathering)
Location: “Bamboo Gathering” is located on either side of your nose, where the nose bridge meets the brow bone.
How to find it: Run both of your index fingers along either side of your nose up towards your eyebrows. When you reach the brow bone you will feel an indent on both sides. There, you will find “Bamboo Gathering”.
How to massage this acupressure point: Apply firm, steady pressure on both sides for 10-15 seconds. Release and repeat.
4. Jian-Jing (Shoulder Well)
Location: “Shoulder Well” is located on either side of your shoulder, directly on top of the shoulder at the midpoint between the base of your neck and where the shoulder ends.
How to find it: Imagine there’s an imaginary straight line running from your nipple to the top of your shoulder. At the end of that line is where you’ll find “Shoulder Well”.
How to massage this acupressure point: You can use your thumb to apply firm, steady pressure, or you can use your knuckles to tap this point for 1-2 minutes. Concentrate on the side of the shoulder where you feel greater neck tension and pain in your head.
Caution: This acupressure point is also used to help induce labour. So if you’re pregnant, stay away from this acupressure point.
5. Lie-Que (Broken Sequence)
Location: “Broken Sequence” is located on the inner side of the wrist, just below the wrist bone.
How to find it: Cross your hands together like in the first picture below. Lower the index finger of the hand on top. You’ll find “Broken Sequence” directly underneath where the index finger touches the wrist of the other hand.
How to massage this acupressure point: Use the tip of your thumb to rub this point in an upward motion (towards the direction of your heart) for several minutes, and then switch sides and massage the other arm.
6. Wai-Guan (Outer Pass)
Location: You can find “Outer Pass” on the back of both of your arms, approximately 2.5 inches, or 3 fingerbreadths above the wrist.
How to find it: Place 3 fingers from one hand (index finger, middle finger, and right finger) on your other arm with your ring finger touching the wrist line. Close any gaps between these 3 fingers. The “Outer Pass” acupressure point lies right on the other side of your index finger, in the center of your arm.
How to massage this acupressure point: Massage in a circular motion for a few minutes at a time, and then switch your arms and do the other side.
7. Tou-Wei (Head Corner)
Location: Like the name suggests, “Head Corner” is located on either corner of the forehead, approximately 0.6 inches above the hairline.
How to find it: Draw an imaginary straight line from the outer corner of your eye upwards until you reach your hairline. “Head Corner” is about 1 fingerbreadth above the hairline.
How to massage this acupressure point: Massage both corners of your forehead in a circular motion at the same time or rub the corners gently with the base of your thumb.
8. Feng-Chi (Wind Pool)
Location: “Wind Pool” is located on the back of your head, on either side of your neck where it connects with the base of your skull.
How to find it: Tilt your head forward. You should be able to feel a depression right below the skull on either side of your neck. That’s where you’ll find “Wind Pool”.
How to massage this acupressure point: Massage both sides in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds, and then rub both areas for 10-15 seconds with a downward motion.
9. Zhong-Zhu (Central Islet)
Location: “Central Islet” is located on the back of your hand, in the groove between your ring finger and your pinky. You can find “Central Islet” in the same area on both hands.
How to find it: Form a loose fist with your hand. You’ll notice a slight depression near the 4th and 5th metacarpo-phalangeal joints. This is where you can find “Central Islet”.
How to massage this acupressure point: Apply firm pressure with the side of your thumb and rub this point vertically (towards the direction of your heart) for 1-2 minutes, then switch to the other hand.
Think You’re Going to Give Acupressure a Try?
That’s it for 9 amazing acupressure points for headaches and neck pain relief. Think you’re going to give acupressure a try? Remember to start gently and scale back the pressure if it hurts.
And what other headache remedies have you tried in the past? Share with me by leaving a comment below!
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