Hold Off That Headache!

Published on: 2/18/2014

Sometimes creeping up from the back of the neck, or maybe stabbing through the temples, or compressing in the forehead, headache pain is one of the most common medical complaints – millions of Americans see their doctors about headache pain every year. But did you know that you can use pressure points to help reduce pain and symptoms?

Self-treatment and self-care is a vital part of health and healing – the instinct to ‘rub what hurts’ is deeply rooted. When a headache begins to develop (whether from tension, migraine, or sinus pressure), the following points may be helpful in forestalling or minimizing its effects. In fact, you may have already found yourself automatically pressing these areas when you’ve felt a headache coming on!

The first pair of points is found at the base of the skull, just to the sides of the spine. Using your thumbs, follow the line of the base of the skull towards the spine. Your thumbs will dip down a little into soft hollows on each side of the spine, about two to three inches apart (these hollows may be tender, so don’t dig in too deeply). Slowly tilt your head back and gently press up underneath the skull. Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes.

The second pair of pressure points that can be effective for headaches is just inside the socket of the eye. To find these points, place the pads of the thumbs alongside the bridge of the nose. Lightly trace up the nose along the bony edge of the eye socket – you will feel a slight notch or indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the brow bone. Gently press up toward the top of the head and slightly together (do not put pressure onto the eye itself). If you’d like, you can tilt your head back while you do this to relieve strain at the base of the skull. Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes.

A third set of points is actually found on your hands. With the thumb and forefinger of one hand, firmly squeeze the 'web' area between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Again, breathe deeply, hold for one minute, then switch hands and repeat on your second hand. I've also used these points effectively for jaw or tooth pain, so you can have a pretty broad definition of 'head' pain when you use this particular set of pressure points.

Always be mindful of the amount of pressure you use – these should not be painful, although some areas may be a little tender. When in doubt, stop and check with your therapist or other health care professional.

When a headache approaches, we often find ourselves pressing or rubbing the areas of our skull that feel the most intense. Taking just a few minutes to treat one or more these specific pressure points (even if they’re not the ones that hurt most) can provide a little focus to help alleviate symptoms before they interrupt our lives.


Just a reminder, don't forget about Keren's talk at Good Harvest Market on the fascial system and its importance for our wellness. Her presentation is coming up on Monday, February 24th, from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit Good Harvest's website and click on the link for Classes & Events.