(NaturalNews) Sooner or later, we all get headaches. Usually, we tend to shut down the pain by taking an over-the-counter drug. Drugs are usually pretty good at removing pain, but they do not address the root cause of the problem and often cause unwanted side effects. Pain is actually very important because it is one way our body communicates a problem with us. By taking a drug to remove the pain, we only dull our senses. However, if we take the time to learn the language of our bodies, we can understand what the causes of our headaches are and address them directly. This is by far the healthiest course of action.
In the case of tension headaches, the culprit is usually tension in the upper back, shoulder and neck muscles. Here are six simple steps that will reduce or remove the pain associated with tension headaches:
1) To start, take yourself away from the computer screen, get comfortable and close your eyes gently. Take a deep breath and let out a long and relaxing sigh as you drop and relax your shoulders. Repeat this 3-4 times or as many times as you like.
2) Use your focus to release the tension in your upper body. Start with your face - take a few seconds to release all muscular tension and completely relax. Then move in a general backwards direction, continuing at the top of your head and then moving to the back of your head. Follow with your neck and finally your shoulders and upper back. Allow a few moments to completely relax each area.
3) Locate acupuncture point GB-20 on either side of the spine on the back of your neck just under the edge of your skull. Press firmly and deeply with your thumbs for about 1 or 2 minutes while keeping your breath gentle, deep and relaxed.
4) Put your hand on the back of your neck. Use four fingers on one side and the heel of your palm on the other side to grasp your neck. Start at the top of your neck and work your way down. Use firm pressure to grasp and then release the muscles a few times before moving down about a finger width and repeating. Massage all the way to the base of your neck about 5-10 times or until your hand gets tired, then switch hands and repeat.
5) Locate Acupuncture point GB-21 on the top of your shoulders half way from your spine to the outer edge of your shoulder. With the same "grasping" technique as #2, massage the muscle at GB-21 with the opposite hand for about 30 seconds to one minute. It will feel quite tender and sore since the muscles may be very tense. During the massage stay relaxed with soft and deep breathing. Switch sides and repeat.
6) Roll your shoulders in large slow circles to stretch and relax any tension that may be left in your shoulders and upper back. Roll them 5 -10 times in each direction while you keep your breathing even and relaxed. To finish, roll your head very gently around in a circle 5-10 times and then switch directions.
At this point, your tension headache should be either reduced or gone. If it is not, wait a few minutes and try again. However, this time do each step for twice as long and make sure to breathe in a deep but relaxed manner. Put an effort into becoming aware of any tension that you may be unknowingly holding in your body and let it go.
Deadman, Peter (1998) A Manual of Acupuncture. England, Journal of Chinese Medicine. Xiangcai, Xu (2002) Chinese Tui Na Massage. Boston, YMAA Publication. Yang, Jwing-Ming (1989) The Root of Chinese Qigong. Boston, YMAA Publication.
About the author
Dave Gabriele, D.Ac, BA, is a registered acupuncturist, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and a health researcher helping people in and around the Greater Toronto Area. He is the founder of Life Balance Family Health Care (www.balanceyourlife.ca), an organization committed to providing people with the information and guidance they need to make positive lifestyle changes. Dave has been a teacher of Chinese martial arts since 1997, including the arts of Taiji and Qigong.