Sinus Headaches: Three At-Home Massage Techniques for Relief
By: Prism Saswirsky, Registered Massage Therapist
As Spring approaches, you may find you’re experiencing more headaches than usual. This can be attributed to sinus headaches, which sometimes result from the increased allergens in the air. Sinus headaches are not only caused by allergies, but also many other sources of nasal congestion.
What Are Sinus Headaches?
Sinuses are air-filled spaces inside your cheekbones, forehead and behind the bridge of your nose. Usually, the sinuses become inflamed due to allergies or infection, causing your sinuses to make more mucous. Mucous buildup causes a blockage in your sinuses’ channels, which drain your mucous. The resulting pressure in the sinuses can cause the pain that feels like a headache.
What Do Sinus Headaches Feel Like?
A sinus headache may present as some of the symptoms listed below:
- Congested or runny nose
- Achy feeling in the upper teeth
- Pressure, fullness and/or pain around the eyes, eyebrows, forehead, bridge of the nose and/or cheeks
- Tenderness when touching the face
What Causes Sinus Headaches?
There are many different causes for sinus headaches. Some of the causes of sinus headaches are:
- The common cold
- A deviated septum
- Nasal polyps
Now that we are familiar with sinus headaches, let’s dig a little deeper into tips for how to drain your sinuses when you have this type of headache, as well as self-massage techniques that you can try at home to relieve some pressure.
The Sequence for Sinus Drainage Massage:
- Facial Steam: Start by boiling water, and pouring it into a separate Rest a towel over the back of your head, lean over the bowl, and inhale the steam. Maintain at least six inches of distance from the water to avoid burns.
- Sinus Massage: With the end of your fingertips, start with quick, light, taps around your cheeks, temples, eyebrows, and forehead. Then choose a specific area to start on. (More below.)
There are different areas of sinuses, and one or more may be clogged at the same time. Here is a breakdown of those areas and the steps for how to decongest them for sinus headache relief.
1. Frontal Sinuses
- Place your index and middle fingers in the middle at the top of your forehead.
- Move your fingers outward to your temples.
- Bring your fingers back to the centre, placed slightly lower than before and repeat the motion.
- Continue these steps until you move your fingers across the eyebrows.
- You can also do these steps with a circular motion.
2. Ethnoid/Sphenoid Sinuses
- Place your thumbs right under your eyebrow, beside either side of your nose; you should feel a little socket right above your eyes.
- Apply light pressure in that gap.
- Move your thumbs outwards until you feel another little notch and apply pressure again for a few seconds. This notch is less prominent than the first.
- Move thumbs outward again, towards the end of your eyebrows. You should feel a third little notch; apply Again, this notch is less prominent than the first.
- Place your index and middle fingers on both sides of your temples.
- Massage in circular motion then lightly stroke downwards.
- Place your index and middle finger on either side of the bridge of your nose. (Between your eyes.)
- Massage in circular motion, or you can hold the pressure and slowly move down the nose.
3. Maxillary Sinuses
- Place your middle and index fingers on either side of your nose, and on your cheekbones right under the eyes.
- Do a soft stroke outward to your ears. You can also do this in circular motions.
- Move down between your cheekbones and upper jaw and repeat.
- For stronger pressure you can use your thumbs.
Sinus headaches are quite common. If you need additional information, or help with your sinus headaches, please feel free to reach out to one of our team members at Stride!