Self Shiatsu for headache relief
Did you know that you can use Self Shiatsu for headache relief? We all know what it is like to have a pounding headache. Our usual response is to reach for the painkillers but what can we do when there are none at hand? Well, one option open to us is to do some self Shiatsu and stimulate some, easily accessible and easily remembered, acupoints.
It is best that these are stimulated at the onset of the headache while you are able to focus on what you are doing rather than waiting until the headache is in full flow.
GB1 (Level with the eye corner, on the temple): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
GB14 (Above the middle of the eyebrow in the small groove that is halfway up the forehead): Finger pressure and/or small massaging rotations for 20 to 30 seconds.
GB 12 (Below and behind the mastoid process): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
GB 20 (At the base of the skull, between the two large muscles [trapezius and the sternocleidomastoid]). Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
LI4 (Midway between the joint of the thumb and the index finger, and the border of the
web): Known as “The Great Eliminator” this point draws energy (qi) away from the head). Apply thumb pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
The time quoted for stimulation is an approximation. A good guide is that you hold the acupoint until any discomfort, from the finger pressure, starts to subside.
Easy to remember, easy to do, and all without ingesting chemicals.
When giving Shiatsu head massage, the giver sits/kneels at the head of the receiver.
- With the receiver lying in the supine position (face upwards), place both hands at the base of the skull and draw gently towards you (chin should tuck in slightly).
- Using the flat of your fingers, gently press in to GB20, noting the rate and depth of breathing and any other subtle movement in the musculature of the neck.
- Using your fingertips, start at the base of the neck and work up to the occiput making small circles at the level of each vertebra. Repeat three times noting any areas of tension and any difference between the left and right sides.
- With your fingers work on the Bladder meridian (one pair of acupoints at a time), 1 cun out from the spine, up as far as BL10 (just to the outside of the insertion point of trapezius muscle, under the occiput).
- Lift the head in both hands and rotate gently within their range of movement, taking note of any resistance or tension. Repeat in both directions.
- Cradling the head in one hand, turn it to one side and use finger/thumb pressure from GB20 (between trapezius & sternocleidomastoid under occiput) down the side of the neck to GB21 (top of trapezius). Repeat three times, staying longer on any tender or stiff points.
- Keeping the head anchored gently push the shoulder away to create a stretch on the neck.
- Squeeze down either side of the SCM muscle, again feeling the points and getting feedback about any referred pain. If such a point is found squeeze for five seconds then release. Repeat until the pain lessens and then stretch the muscle.
- Turn the head to the other side and repeat steps 6-8.
- Centre the head and, using the thumb, stimulate the Governing Vessel points from between the eyebrows to the crown.
- With fingertips work Bladder meridian from BL2 (in the notch at the inside upper edge of the eye socket) 1 cun out from the mid-line.
- With flat of thumbs work along the forehead from centre to the temples, repeat three times, then stimulate TH23 at the outer edge of the eyebrow, and GB1 level with the outer corner of the eye just on the temple area. Both points good for headaches and tension.
- Work around the eye socket using finger pressure on the upper orbit and finger/thumb pressure on the lower orbit, making sure not to drag the skin.
- Massage in small circular movements at the temples. The direction of the circles can be alternated.
- Using thumbs work down the sides of the nose, three times, and then stimulate LI 20 at the outside corner of the nostril.
- Using fingertips work along the underside of the cheekbone. Stimulate ST3 which is under the cheekbone and in line with the pupil of the eye (you need to hook your fingers slightly and pull back towards you).
- Work around the upper gum area, again being careful not to drag the skin, then squeezing top and bottom of the jaw from centre to outside edge.
- Make circular massage movements on the masseter muscle and press in on any tight parts. This area holds a lot of tension and is involved in head pain and migraine.
- Gently take hold of the ears and pull up and down, backwards and forwards. Finish by pulling down on the ear lobes.
- The giver moves to kneel at the side of the receiver. Then places one thumb or finger at the point between the eyebrows (the “Third Eye”) and the other at the Tandien (3 fingers width below the navel). These points are held lightly for 10 seconds and then gently lifted off.
Treatment for Migraine
There are a number of holistic, natural, treatments available for Migraine. Here are some:
Complementary Treatment Options
Shiatsu has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of migraine, especially where stress is the trigger for the attacks. As Shiatsu is usually experienced as deeply relaxing, it creates a feeling of wellbeing that can help the body to recognise the relaxed state and learn to maintain relaxation. Shiatsu practitioners can work with conditions of both acute and chronic natures.
- Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) can be taken, on a daily basis, to prevent the
“cold” type of migraine, where there is the feeling of a tight band around the head.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is recommended where stress is a trigger for migraine
Allopathic Treatment Options
- Anti-sickness drugs.
- Where normal painkillers fail to combat migraine, the ‘triptan’ group of drugs is often prescribed.
- People suffering a migraine should try to rest in a dark, quiet room.