Headache Relief Minus Medicine

Quick Self-Help: Five Acupressure Points

There are at least 20 different acupressure points that are used to relieve the pain of tension and migraine headaches. Fortunately, there are several broad-acting points that can be tried first and that often produce immediate results. Better yet, these points are amenable to self-massage.

As you massage these points, it should feel uncomfortable but not intolerably painful. If it hurts, it should "hurt good." If you can't feel any soreness, you're probably not applying enough pressure. In general, use a finger that doesn't have a long nail - or the knuckle of an index finger - and press firmly while rotating in a tight circle. Try 30 seconds to begin with and repeat as necessary.

Place your right hand so that the palm faces the floor. Squeeze your thumb tightly against your index finger. A fleshy mound will pop up on the back of your hand. Place the tip of your left thumb on the top of the mound. Keep your left thumb on that spot. Repeat with the opposite hand. (Pregnant women should not use this exercise, acupuncturists say.)

With your thumbs, firmly press underneath the base of your skull into the hollow areas on either side. Close your eyes, slowly tilt your head back, and press up from underneath the skull.

Find the center hollow at the base of your skull and press this with your right thumb. Then find the upper hollows of your eye sockets, near the bridge of your nose; press these with your left thumb and index finger. Press these points simultaneously - if it isn't too awkward or uncomfortable, tilt your head back as you do so.

Using your left hand, find the point about midway between the base of your neck and the tip of your right shoulder, in the center of your trapezius muscle. You may need to use two or three fingers to apply enough pressure. Repeat on the left side.

You'll need bare feet for this one. Find the hollow behind and between the knuckles of the big and second toes. It may take you a little while to isolate the right spot or to figure out the best way to apply enough pressure. One option is to lean over, place the thumb of your right hand on top and the index finger underneath your left foot, and apply pressure from both sides. Repeat with the other foot.

Pressing Out The Pain

In Shiatsu acupressure, finger pressure is applied to certain sites to relieve pain. To practice how hard to press, use a bathroom scale as shown below.

Remember to press each point for 10 seconds, and then suddenly release the pressure.

Finger pressure to reduce pain: To improve the response to acupressure, a pressure of 10 to 12 pounds should be exerted. Practice with a bathroom scale to judge how hard to press (A). This pressure can be applied over specific sites.

Acupressure application to the neck: (B) Apply 10 to 12 pounds of thumb or finger pressure to the sites indicated for neck and headache pain. The pressure should be maintained for 10 to 15 seconds and then suddenly released.