Acupressure Points for Tension Headaches
By Dr. Ben
considering the presenting symptoms of the many people I have treated
over the past ten years, I can say with certainty that headaches
are among the most frequently reported health complaints. And the
vast majority of headaches that I have diagnosed and treated have
been tension-type headaches.
headaches involve dull or pressure-like pain in and around your
temples, forehead, scalp, or the back of your neck. Often times,
the pain associated with a tension-type headache will feel like
it is being created by a band of pressure that is tightening around
emotional stress, anxiety, and depression are among the most common
causes of chronic, intermittent tension-type headaches, tension
headaches can also be caused by pure physical stressors, such as
poor posture, sleeping with your neck in an awkward position, or
any type of physical injury that has caused muscles in and around
your head and neck to become tight.
migraine and cluster headaches, tension-type headaches tend to respond
quickly to a few physical measures. What follows are the key recommendations
that I typically share with patients who are looking to overcome
chronic tension-type headaches via simple physical measures:
a minimum of 20 minutes each day in a session of meditation, deep
relaxation, or prayer. Doing so can help to alleviate emotional
stressors that may be contributing to your tension-type headaches.
For meditation and relaxation sessions, I have found EarthRain
to be an enormously effective tool.
mindful of positions that your neck and head are forced to take
on for extended periods throughout the day. Strive to position
your neck and head in such a way that you do not feel tension
in your eyes, neck, or shoulders. Reading and writing with your
neck bent down and to one side are killer culprits - do what you
can to minimize this posture.
receiving approval from your primary health care provider, consider
applying manual pressure to the following acupuncture points:
Bladder 20 (GB-20): Located behind your head, in
the first major depression that you can feel below the base
of your skull, about two finger widths away from the midline
of your neck.
those with knowledge of human anatomy: This point is at
the junction of the occipital and nuchal regions, in a depression
that lies between the origins of the sternocleidomastoid
and trapezius muscles. It is approximately at the level
of the lower margin of the external occipital protuberance.
of pressure to GB-20 is meant to affect:
capitis posterior muscle
capitis superior muscle
fibers from dorsal rami of upper cervical nerves
of the occipital artery and tributaries of the companion
of Your Temporalis Muscle*: Located in the center
of your temple region. Palpate this region with your first
and middle fingers pressed closely together until you find
a tender, muscular zone. If you have trouble locating this
point, place your fingers against your temples and then clench
down on your molars a few times - you should feel the main
muscle belly of your temporalis muscles bulge in and out.
those with knowledge of human anatomy, pressure on the belly
of the temporalis muscle is meant to affect:
temporal nerves that branch off from the third division
(mandibular) of the trigeminal nerve
branches of the greater occipital nerve
temporal artery and companion vein
Intestine 4 (LI-4): Located in the soft, fleshy web
that sits between your thumb and forefinger.
those with knowledge of human anatomy, this point is meant
muscular branch of the median nerve
deep branch of the ulnar nerve
palmer digital nerves from the first common palmar digital
superficial branch of the radial nerve
branches of the cephalic vein, the radial artery, and
the first dorsal metacarpal artery and companion veins
For optimal results, use your fingers and/or thumbs to massage
these points on both sides of your body for
a few minutes at a time, up to several times a day. When you
correctly locate these points, you should feel some tenderness
when you apply pressure to them. Apply enough pressure/massage
to create a mild, dull, and possibly achy sensation.
you are not sure about the location of GB-20 and LI-4, I highly
recommend that you take a look at the following book, the best
of its kind:
Potent Points: a Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments
recommend this as a must-have reference book for every person
who is interested in natural health remedies, as it provides
excellent illustrations of all of the major acupressure points
that I use to treat a wide variety of health challenges. I will
continue to refer to various points that are illustrated in
this book as I write more articles on how to use acupressure
to address different health challenges.
note: you should never receive acupressure or acupuncture
treatments while pregnant. Certain points, such as SP-6 can cause
uterine contractions. Also, acupressure should never be applied
to legs that have varicose veins. Applying pressure or massage to
varicose veins can potentially lead to a pulmonary embolism. You
should always consult with your primary health care provider before
you begin applying acupressure to yourself or others.
you find that consistent application of the suggestions provided
in this article do not lead to significant improvement with your
headaches, you should consult with your primary health care provider
to rule out other less common causes of pain and discomfort in your
head and neck regions.
belly of your temporalis muscle does not contain a classically defined
acupuncture meridian point. It is a point that I have found through
personal clinical experience to be an effective treatment site for
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