Headaches are about so much more than pain. And not all headaches pertain to a specific illness. We can experience a headache because of an energetic blockage, such as from frustration, anger, or guilt. Thankfully the practice of self-shiatsu can help you tune into these headaches as clues, not omens of neglect or illness, and relieve pain.
The same way you get a stomach ache when you feel nervous, headaches can come on due to stress, overwhelming or unsaid feelings, and a lack of connection, among many other things. There is even an expression to back this up: “Worth the headache” or “Not worth the headache.”
The aim of shiatsu is to alleviate pain, discomfort and suffering, and promote connectivity between body, mind and soul while maintaining health, calmness and a sense of peace.
If you’re unfamiliar with shiatsu and its benefits, here is a quick rundown of how this ancient practice can be beneficial for your overall health and five pressure points along Traditional Chinese Meridians help alleviate every kind of headache.
Shiatsu: An Ancient Practice to Improve Your Health
If you have a headache right now, take a moment to go within and see how you are feeling. What thoughts are going through your mind? What is weighing you down? Did you remember to eat or drink or move or breathe deeply or smile or say something positive?
While over-the-counter pain relievers can address the symptoms of a headache, shiatsu is a holistic approach that can help you weed out ‘what’s ailing you’ by addressing the root cause directly.
Shiatsu is an ancient practice that combines the use of deep internal awareness cues with pressure or tapping practices at specific pressure points (known as tsubos) to address the whole body’s wellness and release pain.
By going internal first, to see how our emotions and thoughts are deeply affecting our body, we can then start addressing what is really going on, get rid of a headache, for example, more quickly, and free yourself from the suffering.
While going to a shiatsu practitioner every time you get a headache may not be tenable, you can practice self-shiatsu. Read on for key shiatsu pressure points to give you quick relief.
Another ancient method to try: Acupressure. Here’s Your Step-By-Step Guide to Use Acupressure for Headache Relief
5 Shiatsu Pressure Points to Alleviate Every Kind of Headache:
As you practice, breathe through any discomfort, thoughts or feelings that arise. Try to let go and let it move through you.
1. Stress Headache
If you are feeling antisocial or overwhelmed by other peoples’ energies or environment, this stress is likely giving you a headache. This comes from a blockage in your metal energy. By not releasing your emotions or censoring them, your body responded with a headache.
If everything is feeling a bit too much, try this self-shiatsu point by squeeze this tsubo: large intestine #4, (合谷 Union Valley).
Location: In the middle of the 2nd metacarpal bone on the radial side.
Squeeze on the webbing between your index finger and thumb. Make sure you’re squeezing the muscle that stretches between your fingers, not just the skin. You can do this on either hand or alternate between the two.
2. Depression Headache
This headache comes from having a blockage in your water element, which can at times correlate to actual dehydration. It’s good to drink water anyway, but if you’re feeling pressure in your skull from emotional pain, you’re going to benefit by pouring a glass of water for yourself.
If you’re feeling light-headed or static and your energy feels stagnant, then squeeze and tap this tsubo: kidney 27 (愈府 Acupuncture Point of Mansion).
Location: In a depression on the lower border of the clavicle, 2 cun lateral to the Conception Vessel line.
This pressure point is just below the pointed edges of your collarbone, where it frames the bottom of your throat. To apply self-shiatsu, use your fingertips to press or tap on either side of the pressure point. Or you can hold both sides with your thumb and index finger. Breathe thoughtfully throughout.
Does your energy start to move? Where is it moving to? Do you notice your thoughts progressing instead of staying stuck on the same loop as well? Your headache should be gone shortly afterward.
3. Indecision Headache
Having a hard time trusting your gut and now you have a headache? You might be overwhelmed and overthinking! Your brain will be forced to work overtime if you do not trust your instincts, which can be taxing to the brain.
The aim of shiatsu is to alleviate pain and promote connectivity between body, mind and soul.
There are actually three self-shiatsu pressure points that will help you move through this and they all correspond to your wood energy: gall bladder 1 (瞳子 Pupile Bone-Hole), 14 (陽白 Yang White), and 20 (風地 Wind Pool).
Location: Gall Bladder 1: 5 cun lateral to the outer canthus of the eye in a depression on the lateral side of the orbit.
On either side of your eye sockets is a pressure point that will help you regain access to new, inventive, clear ideas. Gently hold the corner of your eyes, where you can feel the bone. Do not press too hard or touch your eyeball too closely. Your brain will move through this energy and help you feel more grounded in your initial gut instincts.
Location: Gall Bladder 14: 1 cun above the midpoint of the eyebrow.
There is a tsubo where your forehead meets your hairline that runs parallel to your eyebrows. Firmly press this point with your index finger and breathe through the pressure that’s now moving through your body.
Location: Gall Bladder 20: In a depression between the upper portion of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the trapezius.
On the outside of your neck muscle, where the back of your head meets the nape of your neck, is the next pressure point. This works on both the left and right sides of your body. The neck is a bridge between your brain and the rest of your body. It’s important to keep this energy flow moving.
For this self-shiatsu pressure point, place your thumbs on both sides of the top of the back of the neck, in the soft depressions, and squeeze or bring your head to the thumbs to rest.
4. Emotional Headache
Anger is the main culprit when it comes to an emotional headache. Overwhelming and overpowering emotions can wreak havoc on your body and lead to a headache. It’s important to balance the fire element within you.
If this feels resonate for you the next time you have a headache, try this pressure point by squeezing the small intestine 1 (少沢 Little Marsh).
Location: .1 cun posterior to the corner of the nail on the ulnar side of the little finger.
Squeeze your thumb and index finger on both sides of the top knuckle of your pinkie finger, framing either side of your nail bed, and don’t forget to breathe!
It’s normal for more emotions to come up while you’re moving this energy through your body. Let this energy move in a deliberate flow instead of causing chaos in your mind and body, and turn the chaos into a positive experience in your life.
5. Vulnerability Headache
This one’s a little tricky. Have you ever beaten yourself up about something you’ve either said or wished you said? Did you want to handle a situation differently than the way it actually happened?
When we stress out during these moments, it’s a common pattern to clench your jaw, draw your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and squeeze these muscles in reaction to biting your tongue, metaphorically speaking. This is all due to a blockage in your earth energy.
While this self-shiatsu pressure point is also helpful for issues like TMJ, tapping, squeezing or twisting the skin at this point will alleviate vulnerability headaches.
If you are experiencing a vulnerability headache, apply pressure to the: Stomach 5 (大迎 Great Reception) and 6 (頬車 Jawbone) points.
Location: Stomach 5: Anterior to the angle of the mandible, on the anterior border of the attached portion of m. masseter, where the facial artery pulsates.
Location: Stomach 6: On the cheek, in the depression one finger-breadth (middle finger) anterior and superior to the lower angle of the mandible where m. masseter attaches, at the prominence of the muscle when the teeth are clenched.
Neighboring each other on both sides of your jawbone, these pressure points fall in line with the hinge joint of your jaw. You can use your fingertips to gently press, squeeze or twist away all of the things you wish you said or did, leaving you feeling open, exposed or embarrassed. That’s okay. We all feel that way sometimes.
Alleviate Headaches With Shiatsu Pressure Points
The disruption to a quality of life can lead to something we think is fairly normal, a headache, for example, but if you examine it more thoroughly, it can be an indicator that something much deeper may be going on with you.
There’s nothing wrong with taking an over-the-counter medication to mitigate your pain, but if you have a feeling that your headaches are emblematic of a pattern you wish to disrupt, heal, or work through, self-shiatsu, brilliantly written about by Wataru Ohashi, is a very important tool you may want to incorporate it into your wellness journey.
Practicing self-shiatsu is a wonderful opportunity to tune in and free yourself from pain and suffering. We all have the right to live freely.
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.