How to Relieve Tension Headaches with Acupressure and Heat Therapy
Tension-type headaches (or tension headaches) are the most common form of primary headache, accounting for nearly 90% of all headaches. Most people will experience tension headaches at some point in t...
Tension-type headaches (or tension headaches) are the most common form of primary headache, accounting for nearly 90% of all headaches. Most people will experience tension headaches at some point in their lives and some studies suggest that around a fifth of all adults suffer from them at least once a month. Tension-type headaches can develop at any age but are more common in teenagers and adults. Also, they tend to occur more frequently in women than in men. Tension headaches are classified as episodic or chronic: the former occur fewer than fifteen days a month whereas the latter arise fifteen days or more a month for at least six consecutive months. They can last from a few minutes to several hours, although a typical tension-type headache lasts from four to six hours. The exact cause of tension headaches is not completely clear, although they are thought to be triggered by stress and anxiety, tiredness, muscle tension around the head and neck, poor posture, hunger and dehydration.
Over the past few years, a growing number of people have turned to acupressure in order to relieve tension-type headaches in a completely natural fashion—no painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs or other obscure tablets to ingest. Acupressure (not to be confused with acupuncture) is a non-invasive healing technique based on the application of physical pressure on specific points along the body. Such pressure boosts peripheral blood circulation and encourages the body to release endorphins and oxytocin, thereby relieving pain and muscle tension and easing stress and anxiety.
Similarly, heat therapy (also known as thermotherapy) has long been employed to relieve tension headaches. Heat, in fact, dilates the blood vessels of the head and neck muscles, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients towards them. Moreover, heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, which decreases the transmission of pain signals to the brain and partially relieves discomfort.
Today, it is possible to reap the benefits of both acupressure and heat therapy through a single device: the heatable acupressure pillow or thermo pillow. Such pillow is significantly smaller than an ordinary bed pillow and is characterized by the "spiky" plastic discs that cover one of its sides. Such discs (commonly known as "flowers" or "florets") feature a series of tips whose shape should ideally be pyramidal. Also, their number per disc should range between 31 and 35. A lower number may render acupressure too uncomfortable, whereas a higher number may make it too "bland" and, consequently, ineffective.
It is also important to pay attention to the pillow's padding. The best acupressure pillows, in fact, are those filled with spelt chaff as they can better adjust to the shape of a person's neck, thereby increasing the pressure of the tips and making acupressure more uniform and balanced. Furthermore, spelt chaff is a completely natural and environment-friendly material with a very high content of silicic acid. This not only makes the thermo pillow perfectly breathable, but also means that, once warmed up (in a microwave or conventional oven) the beneficial heat stored inside it is released more gradually.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Charlton is a naturopath who wholeheartedly believes in the importance of natural therapies in encouraging a patient's self-healing processes.