Stimulating pressure points can be an effective and natural way to treat migraines.
For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has used the techniques of stimulating the bodies energy pathways through these “pressure points” to bring the body back into balance. Stimulating specific pressure points for migraine relief could help by reducing migraine symptoms and may also help reduce the occurrences of migraine headaches.
SAFETY FIRST: If you are Pregnant you should avoid stimulating pressure points to treat your migraine symptoms as it is thought that it may bring on contractions or labour.
What Are Pressure Points?
Our bodies have hundreds of so-called “pressure points”. These are also called “acupoints” and are the sensitive spots that are on our bodies natural energy lines.
When pressure is applied to these areas, it may help to relieve your pain or physical discomfort. The main focus of acupressure is that it can help to restore the bodies flow of energy through the body’s vital energy pathways. This in turn then allows the body to return to a natural state of balance, health and well being, releasing (healing) any health issues (blockages) you may have had.
Acupuncture and Acupressure – Are They the Same Thing?
There are some similarities between acupressure and acupuncture techniques. In both of these methods, you are stimulating the body at certain acupoints, which are linked to the bodies energy pathways in your body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these acupoints are believed to be along the vital energy pathways, also known as the “Meridians”. Different acupoints are stimulated by pressure massage or by tiny needles and this, in turn, unblocks the energy pathway and restores the energy flow which then will return the body back to its natural state of health and balance.
Acupuncture uses these very small needles which are inserted at very specific spots on the body. Acupressure uses physical massage or a strong pushing/pressure (usually using your fingers) sensation into the area of the acupoint. This then stimulates the nerves in that area.
Some people just can’t bring themselves to have these tiny little needles applied to them, so if this is the case for you then acupressure would be the better option.
I have tried both of these techniques in the past, but I have come to find my use of acupressure has been a long-term solution for me. Acupressure is something that I have found to be relaxing and gives me some relief of my migraine symptoms and tension areas.
I personally don’t prefer one over the other but with acupressure, I can actually do this technique myself in the comfort of my own home. To have acupuncture applied I need to make an appointment and go out to see an acupuncture specialist who is trained in this area of expertise.
How To Massage a Pressure Point
You can do acupressure massage on yourself, ask someone you are comfortable with to help you or see someone who specialises in acupressure-massage.
When you use acupressure-massage you need to start with a light pressure and work up to a firmer pressure at the point of massage.
Below are two techniques that you can use when working on a pressure point.
- Find the pressure point (acupoint) then massage it in a rotating circular motion applying downward pressure
- Find the pressure point (acupoint) and use a direct downward pressure onto the point, you may wish to move the pressure up and down on that spot (a pulsating pressure)
There should be a slight feeling of discomfort while applying the pressure, like a dull pain, that should reduce slowly as you hold the pressure there for a short period.
Don’t push on the pressure point so hard that the area feels too painful and becomes unbearable.
Always remember to be kind to your body. Do not continue to massage these points if they become too painful. Give your body a rest and try later when you are relaxed. If they are painful its usually because you have a lot of stress built up within that area.
Do It Yourself Acupressure Technique
- Relax in a comfortable position
- Find a pressure point that relates to your problem area
- Massage or apply pressure to this area
- You can close your eyes (I like to visualize something relaxing during the process)
- Hold the pressure for the required time, and then release
- Repeat this in the same spot approximately 3-4 times
- Remember that you can apply acupressure a number of times throughout your day
Acupressure Points for Migraine and Headaches Relief
Not everyone will get the same result during acupressure. Remember to breath deeply and try to visualise and think relaxing thoughts as this will help you relax the muscles in your body and get a far better acupressure experience.
1. Between Your Eyes at the Bridge of your nose
These pressure points are linked to sinus and eye strain pressure around your eyes. Use pressure here to help relieve headaches or migraine symptoms. These pressure points are located in the centre of your face where your nose meets your eye sockets. You should be able to feel a slightly sensitive pressure area.
WHAT TO DO: You can use your two index fingers at the same time to firmly apply pressure to this area. Try and hold it for around 10-15 seconds, then release the pressure. You can repeat this a few times until the dull pain subsides.
2. The Base of the Skull
This pressure point may help with headache relief which is likely caused by tension in your the neck. You can find this pressure point at the base of your neck where it meets with your skull. You should be able to feel a hollow between your neck muscles.
WHAT TO DO: You can use your middle finger and index fingers together at the same time. Pressing firmly and in an upward direction on both sides at once for around 10- 15 seconds. You can repeat this around 3-5 times until you can feel some relief in and around the area.
3. Between the Shoulder and Neck
This pressure point is used to help relieve stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders which can be a trigger or a symptom for migraine headaches. This area is where many of us tend to hold onto muscular tension from our daily stresses and relaxing this area can help you to manage tension migraines.
The acupoint can be found about halfway between your shoulder and the base of your neck.
Use the thumb of one of your hands to apply firm pressure to one side. You can use a circular massaging pressure or a downward pressure for around a minute. You can alternate right and left sides repeating the pressure a few times until the dull pain sensation starts to subside and you may be able to feel some relaxation in this area.
4. Between Your Thumb and Index Finger
On your hands, there is a pressure point between the thumb and the first finger. If you apply firm pressure to this area it is thought to help reduce migraines, as well as neck and shoulder pain.
Using your thumb and index finger, on one hand, pinch the area on your other hand between your thumb and index finger. You can apply direct pressure holding for 5-10 seconds or if you prefer you can massage this area using your thumb in a circular motion going one way and then reversing to go the other way as well. Once you have done one hand repeat in on the opposite hand. Check out this acupressure tool that can help with this particular pressure point. and saves you the trouble of having to hold pressure in the area.
Home Assistance Tools for Acupressure – Migraine and Headaches Relief
There are some home massage and acupressure assistance tools available on the market. These may help assist you if you wish to add acupressure massage into your migraine and headaches relief management plan, especially if you find it difficult to do the acupressure massage to yourself and don’t have someone available to help you.
If you don’t have strength in your hands to regularly do self-massage to the level you require for migraine management and relief you may want to try some of the acupressure and massage assistance tools available for home and personal use.
These may not be as exact at locating the acupoints but they will hopefully help give you some relief if used in the area that you require, and on the plus side, they may also help to increase circulation to those problem areas.
Not so long ago I was given a gift of an Acupressure Mat. This is a foam mat with a cotton cover that is covered with little circular spikes that you can lay on to do Yoga or just relaxation. At first, I was unsure about it and thought that it may hurt but after I tried it a few times I really started to enjoy using it and I would look forward to having some time to relax and lye on my mat.
I will spend 20 mins now relaxing on my “spiky acupressure mat” with it stimulating all the areas under my neck, shoulders and head. I have found it really great for increasing my circulation and reducing pain in my tension areas. I really love it because it gives me results without having to take medications that could affect me in other ways such as drowsiness or fatigue.
It may not be for everyone, especially if you find it difficult getting up and down from the floor as you wouldn’t want to get stuck and not able to get up off it.
Also, available on the markets are a huge variety of handheld rollers and electronic massaging devices. Some of these come with heat, infra-red lights and other massage sensory elements aimed to help your massage experience.
But to really get the full benefit of accessing your “pressure points” more accurately and regularly when required, I personally think that the old-fashioned use of using your own hands is the best option available, as you have relief ready whenever you need it.
Always remember to talk to your medical professional before using any alternative therapies for your migraines. It’s important to determine that your migraine is not being caused by any other underlying medical condition.