Headaches remind me of unwelcome guests. They cause varying degrees of discomfort and inconvenience and make me want to go to bed early. They occupy my headspace, make demands and derail previous plans. But even if I wanted to play the gracious host, this is no time to be one. Instead, I use acupressure points to send most headaches packing before they can ruin what's left of my day.
You can apply pressure to acupoints using:
With a little due diligence, acupressure is very safe. You can always talk to a doctor, preferably one in integrative medicine, to clear yourself of any contraindications -- especially if you're a beginner, are pregnant, have cancer or other diagnosed condition, or you're dealing with serious injury, trauma, or post-operative recovery.
The technique is simple. You figure out what acupressure point you need and you work it. You use different kinds of pressure, depending upon whether the points you're working are soft or stiff.
There are several acupoints that will relieve a headache. One of the most common is LI4 on the large intestine meridian. It's located right inside the web of your hand at the base of the thumb and index fingers. Look for it on the inside of the base of your fingerbone. You'll know it right away because it tends to be irritable in most people. Just look for a spot that jumps out at you when you press on it.
Now, gradually press and hold steady pressure on the point. Hold for 20 seconds and release. How did the point feel to you as you were pressing it? Did it feel soft and mushy, like your thumb wanted to settle into it? Or did it feel a little stiff, as though pushing back against the pressure?
Now, go back and do it again. This time, see what kind of pressure feels good on the point. Again, ask yourself what quality is the point showing you: hard or soft? You need to know because the treatment technique is different for each.
If a point is hard to press, then there's too much energy flowing through it. To release it, press in short gentle staccato pulse-like motions. Go for about 30 seconds unless it starts to feel irritable. Irritability means slow down and let things process.
Points feel soft where there isn't enough energy. These points need to have steady pressure held on them for as long as it takes them to revitalize. Just relax, breathe into the point, and hold the point at a pressure that feels good.
For headaches at the back of the head, there's a technique that restores circulation to that entire area.
Put two racketballs tightly into the toe of a sock and knot it closed. Lie back with the sock under the back edge of your skull, with a ball on either side of your spine. Breathe slowly and deeply and relax until your headache leaves.
It absolutely does work. Here's why.
If you know what you're dealing with, you'll be more effective. So first, just a little background on acupressure points and what they're about. I promise you, you'll understand and it'll all make sense when you start wielding your new skills to get energy unstuck and get everything moving along, including your headache.
Your headache is on what's called a meridian. Maybe more than one. You only need one to start treatment. Acupressure points are also located on meridians.
Like the highways on a map, these are highways within your body. Their function is to provide pathways for energy to travel along as it circulates throughout the body. This is important because the way you feel at any given moment depends upon how well your energy is circulating.
When the pathways are open and your system is strong and healthy, the energy will flow to where it's needed -- for cellular functions, for digestive and endocrine, for immune, respiratory and nervous system functions. You'll feel alive and in sync.
But energy pathways can get blocked, too. Pathways sometimes clear by themselves, or they may not. When they're blocked, you'll notice that you don't feel as alert or focused.
In fact, you might even wind up with a headache!
Imagine yourself running water through a hose. As long as the hose is unobstructed and you have enough water pressure to push the water out, the water flows freely to your garden. Now imagine that your hose has a glob of hardened clay stuck inside it, and you don't know it yet. You turn on the water at the same speed as you did the last time you watered your garden. But this time, not only is the water not coming out freely: the hose is bulging and there seems to be a pressure backup to the faucet. This is clearly not a good thing.
Your meridians are like the hose and the energy that flows through them is like the water. Your body can do all of its functions freely and efficiently when the energy can get where it needs to go. If it can't, then you're going to have to unblock the meridians so the energy can circulate.
What energy are we talking about? In Western science, it's referred to as bioenergy. In the East, including the area around China, Japan, Korea and India, it's referred to as chi (pronounced chee), ki(kee) or prana. It literally affects the polarity of your cells, which in turn determines whether or not they can do the work it takes to be healthy cells in a healthy body.
The word "energy" could mean a lot of other things: electricity, natural gas or wind speed.
Chi refers to a very specific kind of energy: life-force energy, and it has its own system that tries to keep you up and running in good shape. So, for clarity's sake, we'll just use the term "chi."
Highways generally are part of a larger infrastructure that's laid out in patterns that adapt to the types and amounts of area that they serve.
Your meridians have their own "express" and "local" lanes, as well as intersections where the roads meet and cross. They are where the traffic can change direction or get onto a different road.
In order for the chi in your meridians to go everywhere it's needed, the main roads have to be coordinated with smaller side and back roads. There's no telling how miniscule the roads get, but there are many, many infinitesimally small and smaller meridians.
Each intersection is a meridian point where chi can come and go, leave and redirect its course.
It'll go wherever it's told to go or knows to go. We're still learning about what it is and how it knows where to go, but we do know it can heal.
And now, since we're getting into the realm of physics, this is where we stop and go back to what we've just discussed, because now you already know enough to understand how acupressure can get rid of your headache.
Let's go back to the street analogy to look at the acupoint again. You have manholes that open to the tunnels running beneath the road. If acupoints are like manholes, then the meridians are like the tunnels. Acupoints are literally access points to the meridians and the chi flowing through them.
These access points determine the depth and type of pressure you deliver. When there's too much chi in a meridian, it feels like it's bounding. You can open access to normalize the flow by combining the pulsing technique with gentle holds. This technique releases some of the overflow, just as activating the spray handle on your garden hose releases pressure inside of the hose. The system begins to calm down.
It's the same with the chi and your meridians. A strong flow of chi can be detected in several ways. For example, a bounding pulse can be felt through your finger. Once you release bounding chi this way, it calms down and begins to balance.
Maybe even relieves a headache...
There can also be too little chi to nourish your system well enough for you to maintain good health.
You can't water your garden very well if the water won't reach your plants.
When chi can't go anywhere, it can stagnate and create inflammation and pressure within the tissues. These can lead to the breakdown mechanisms that begin to work within the system, which can also cause headaches. These may be some of the more serious headaches that would need medical attention. Chi needs to keep moving and circulating.
The East mapped the points out thousands of years ago, so they've saved us from having to reinvent the wheel. If you know where those points are and what you want to use them for, they can be really powerful treatment tools for yourself and others.
It's all about removing blocks from meridians to restore balanced flow of chi within the system.
In Eastern chi medicine, balance means health. When chi is dammed up, it's out of balance. All of the water is on one side of the dam and little to none is on the other. Balanced chi flows smoothly and freely, keeps everything clean, nourished and healthy.
Recently a young college student asked his roommate for advice on how to get rid of his frequent headaches. His roommate taught him to use acupressure on LI4 (located in the web of the hand at the base of the thumb and index finger).
The technique quickly got rid of all of his headaches, but pressing on LI4 left him with sore thumbs. Looking for a way to work on LI4 without hurting himself, he figured out a device that kept steady pressure over the point.
He called the device Aculief. It was so consistently effective that he decided to try to market it. When it relieved people's headaches, they recommended it to others and sales skyrocketed.
The Aculief device, one of the props listed above, prevents sore thumbs as it works. It can clear headaches within 15 minutes without overworking the point and causing further imbalance in your energy system. As you wear Aculief for migraines , it encourages your body to release endorphins – the "happy" hormones that relieve headaches, pain and tension.
Like any other technique, acupressure works better the more you use it. But now, with a proven device that vanishes headaches minus the sore thumbs, there are easier choices. Personally, I prefer to let Aculief do the work and keep my thumbs intact.
If you're going to buy one thing this week, why not go with Aculief.
Hopefully, you've now gotten a better understanding of how to use pressure points to get rid of headaches.