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Acupressure Massage for Headaches and Migraines

Acupressure Massage for Headaches and Migraines

Tension headaches are the worst. As a former massage therapist, I still use acupressure massage for headaches whenever I feel tension pain coming on. 

And I know that tension headaches are a common ailment experienced by people across the globe. Characterized by a dull, persistent ache often accompanied by tightness or pressure around the head, these headaches can significantly impact one’s daily life.

In short, tension headaches and migraines suck.

While over-the-counter medications and alternatives like CBD oil may offer headache relief, many individuals seek natural and holistic alternatives to manage their pain. Acupressure facial massage, a technique rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, has gained popularity as a soothing and effective method for tension headache relief.

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Understanding Tension Headaches

Tension headaches, also known as stress headaches, typically result from muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulder regions. Factors such as stress, poor posture, dehydration, and prolonged screen time contribute to the development of these headaches. Acupressure facial massage leverages the principles of acupressure, which is based on the idea that applying pressure to specific points on the body can promote healing, relaxation, and pain relief.

The Fundamentals of Acupressure

Acupressure is an ancient healing technique that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and is believed to stimulate the body’s vital energy, known as “qi,” by applying pressure to specific points along energy pathways called meridians. By targeting these points, acupressure aims to restore balance and alleviate various ailments.

Acupressure Facial Massage for Headaches: How It Works

Acupressure facial massage for tension headache relief involves gentle and deliberate pressure on key points on the face and neck. (And facial massage also improves the texture and tone of your face, making you look younger. Win, Win!)

These pressure points are strategically chosen based on their connection to the meridians associated with headache relief. Here are some essential points to focus on during the massage:

1. Yintang (Third Eye Point):

Located between the eyebrows, this point is believed to relieve stress, ease tension, and promote relaxation.

2. Zan Zhu (Gallbladder 2):

Found at the inner end of the eyebrows, near the bridge of the nose, massaging this point can help alleviate eye strain and sinus congestion that may contribute to tension headaches.

3. Yingxiang (LI20 – Welcome Fragrance):

Situated on both sides of the nostrils, massaging these points can help open up the nasal passages, reducing sinus-related tension headaches.

4. Tian Zhu (Gallbladder 10):

Located at the base of the skull, in the hollows on either side of the neck, massaging this point can provide relief from neck tension that often contributes to headaches.

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Acupressure Facial Massage Technique: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Preparation:

Find a quiet and comfortable space to perform the acupressure facial massage. Ensure your hands are clean and your nails are trimmed.

2. Relaxation:

Begin with deep, calming breaths to center yourself and prepare for the massage.

3. Pressure Application:

Using your index and middle fingers, apply gentle but firm pressure to the selected acupressure points. You can use circular motions or hold the points for 1-2 minutes.

4. Symmetry:

Repeat the pressure application on both sides of the face to maintain balance.

5. Progression:

Start with the third eye point and gradually work your way through each selected point. Take your time and listen to your body’s response.

6. Massage Routine:

Perform the acupressure facial massage routine daily or as needed for headache relief. Consistency is key to experiencing the full benefits.

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Benefits of Acupressure Facial Massage for Headaches

Acupressure facial massage offers a range of benefits beyond tension headache relief:

1. Natural Pain Relief:

By stimulating specific pressure points, acupressure promotes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, providing relief from headache discomfort.

2. Stress Relief

The rhythmic and gentle massage motions induce relaxation and help lower stress levels, contributing to overall well-being.

3. Improved Circulation:

Massaging the facial and neck muscles enhances blood flow, which can reduce muscle tension and alleviate headaches.

4. Enhanced Energy Flow:

The practice aims to unblock the flow of qi along the meridians, promoting balance and vitality.


Acupressure facial massage is a non-invasive, holistic approach to tension headache relief that draws upon ancient wisdom and the body’s innate healing abilities.

By applying gentle pressure to specific points on the face and neck, individuals can experience natural pain relief, reduced stress, and improved overall well-being. While acupressure can be a powerful tool, it’s important to remember that it might not be a standalone solution for severe or chronic headaches.

Consulting a healthcare professional for a comprehensive approach to headache management is recommended. With consistent practice, acupressure facial massage can become a valuable addition to one’s self-care routine, offering a path to relief that aligns with the body’s natural healing processes.

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Yoga Stretches for Back Pain

Yoga Stretches for Back Pain

Back pain is like visits from your in-laws, you never know how annoying it is, until you can’t get rid of it. While I’m making light of a common issue, low back pain can make it impossible to enjoy our favorite activities like hiking, make it difficult to work, and decrease our quality of life.

The good news is, that there are very effective back pain treatments available. What’s more, there are some amazing drug-free back pain treatments, like yoga or stretching,  that can provide relief without the use of medications that may have unwanted side effects.

One of my favorite ways to treat back pain and improve my spinal flexibility is yogic stretching. And what’s great is there are many in-person classes and yoga DVDs for back pain available for a more guided experience.

But before I get into the most effective stretches for pain, let’s talk about your spine and what causes back pain.

Yoga Poses to Reduce Back Pain

The Common Causes of Back Pain

A healthy spine means a healthy life because your spine is literally at the center of everything you do. The spine is a series of vertebrae, or small bones, that support you from the base of your skull down to your pelvis. It is divided into five regions: cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), lumbar (lower back), sacrum, and coccyx (tail bone), and with so many intervertebral discs, nerve roots, and spinal joints, back pain is incredibly common, and often incredibly painful.

Some of the most common causes of pain in the back include:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Structural issues
  • Movement & posture
  • Infection
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cancer

** As you can see by the above list, some causes of back pain can be serious, so it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor to diagnose the underlying cause of your issue.

Now, yoga and stretching is one of the best ways to be proactive about spinal health because keeping a flexible spine means keeping all these spinal components working together for optimal mobility. But the other great thing about stretching is that it is an excellent tool for those already experiencing back pain.

yoga for back pain

7 Simple Stretches to Reduce Back Pain

The following stretches will help not only ease immediate pain but promote more long-term spinal health:

Cat-Cow Pose

Come to a tabletop position. Keep your arms shoulder-distance apart, and knees and feet hip-distance apart. Inhale as you gaze up and lift your tailbone as your belly lowers. This is a cow pose.

Then, exhale and come into cat pose. Tuck your tailbone and draw your navel toward your spine. Lower your head and tuck your chin toward your chest.

This is an excellent pose to warm up the body and bring some flexibility to the spine.

Spinal Twist 

Lie on your back. Bring your knees into your chest and bring your arms into a T- or goal post shape. Keep knees together and slowly lower them to one side, keeping your gaze up toward the sky or in the opposite direction for a gentle neck stretch.

For a deeper stretch, you can leave one leg extended straight as you move the other across your body.

You can place a bolster between the knees or underneath the knee(s) for a more restorative option.

Focus on keeping both shoulders grounded on the mat. The shoulder opposite the crossed leg(s) will naturally want to lift off the mat, which is one reason a bolster helps in this stretch.

yoga stretches back pain relief

Child’s Pose 

Come to a tabletop position and spread your knees as wide as your mat, letting your toes touch behind you. Lower your torso between your knees and rest your forehead and shoulders on the mat.

This pose may not feel like much of a backstretch, but it does help elongate the spine. Many of us spend much of the day sitting, putting a lot of weight into the lower back without engaging the abdominals, which is what causes compression.

If you experience any discomfort in the knees, you can perform the same movement with the knees kept together.

Place the bolster between your legs, then gently fold onto the bolster, resting your head and upper body for a restorative option.

Downward Facing Dog 

Come to a tabletop position with your toes tucked under. Press into the palms and press back until legs are almost fully extended with tailbone toward the ceiling. Keep your knees bent as much as you need to in order to keep the back straight. Over time you can work the heels closer to the ground.

Tight hamstring muscles can contribute to lower back pain, so this pose is not only beneficial for lengthening the spine but stretching that main muscle group that runs from the hip to the back of the knee.

stretches low back pain relief

Plank Pose

Come to a tabletop position, then engage the core as you slowly lift the knees off the mat and bring your body into a straight line. Continuing to focus on the core will keep you from rounding the back and in a safely aligned plank.

To modify this pose, you can drop down to your forearms.

When it comes to back pain, it is important to focus on the hips as well. When the hip flexors are tight, it can affect the pelvis’s rotation and positioning, which can lead to compression in the lower back. This pose will help strengthen the core and open the hips to improve your pelvic orientation, abdominal strength, and overall posture.

Cobra Pose

Lie on your belly and keep toes pointed, feet pressing down into the mat. Place hands underneath your shoulders, and keep your elbows bent and close to your ribs. Press into the hands as you lengthen the spine, keeping the chest open. Keep the knees, thighs, and hips on the ground. Keep your gaze forward.

Only come up as high as is comfortable or to feel enough of a stretch. From here, you can always move to a high cobra or upward-facing dog. But staying in cobra pose will help alleviate back pain and promote the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.

Bridge Pose

Lie on your back and bring your feet hip-distance (about two fists) apart. Walk the feet in toward the hips, so the knees are directly over the heels when you lift them. Engage the glutes and core as you raise the hips, but do not overextend them because this will lead to overarching and compression of the lower back. This means you do not have to lift the hips but a few inches to benefit from this stretch.

This pose helps to relieve back pain and strengthen the back body but can also cause pain if done incorrectly. One good way to avoid this is to opt for the restorative version of this pose and place a block at its lowest height underneath your sacrum so you can be gently supported in this spinal extension.

In Conclusion

Nearly 65 million people report a recent occurrence of back pain. Whether you engage in a full yoga class or use just a few of the poses from a book, yoga and stretching are both effective modalities to reduce pain. While all of these yoga stretches are safe and effective for back pain, keep in mind you want to do them carefully and correctly. When I first started, I found using a yoga book for back pain that included pose descriptions and pictures very helpful.

Remember to listen to your body because everyone is different, and always feel free to shift around and modify to find the appropriate sensation and stretch for you. When in doubt, consult your favorite yoga instructor about how to safely perform a pose and if necessary modify to your needs.

And of course, if you have any questions, you can always comment below and I’m happy to help!

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