Relieving tension, stress, and soreness is literally in your hands. Just follow our DIY guide.
Press here for your head
There’s nothing like a throbbing noggin to wreck your day. But instead of reflexively reaching for painkillers that can have side effects, you could actually help your body heal itself: In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and acupressure have been used for pain management for thousands of years, and it looks like Western science may finally be catching up. “Science is showing more and more that the stimulation of certain pressure points can affect the neural fibers in the brain as well as the peripheral nervous system,” says Paul Robison, a licensed acupuncturist based in Washington, D.C. and the founder of liveloveflourish.com.
The theory is that stimulating certain nerves can trigger physiological responses like the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) and the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. The right pressure points for headache pain may also help blood vessels dilate, improving circulation and relaxing muscle tissue. “It’s all about releasing tension and restoring balance in the body,” Robison says.
Needles vs. fingers
With acupuncture, trained professionals use superfine needles to target key points. While acupressure—using fingers instead of needles—may not be as precise, it can definitely work. You can get even better results with the guidance of an acupuncturist such as Robison; a pro can also help you develop a personalized protocol you can follow at home. For those seeking relief right now, Robison provides the following guide to pressure points for headache pain. Plus, check out these other home remedies for headaches.
For tension headaches and jaw pain
Pressure point: SI 19
Start at the tragus, that small bit of cartilage in the center of your ear, and move your finger forward about an inch. Open and close your jaw and you should feel a slight depression. Place your middle, index, and ring fingers on that spot and massage in small, counterclockwise circles. Slowly move your fingers down the jawline.