This Quick Migraine Massage Can Actually Help With Your Pain

I've literally been waiting my whole life for this.

migraine pain

Khadija Horton

If you've ever had a migraine (or just a regular headache, TBH), you know they're the absolute pits. Yes, the pits! They're 1) painful, 2) a nuisance to functioning as a human, 3) miserable, and, oh yeah, 4) painful!

While there are some measures you could take to prevent them, like investing in glasses for migraines or getting more sleep, explains Rana Mafee, MD, chief neurologist at Case Integrative Health, a Chicago-based clinic focused on treating chronic illnesses, the throbbing, splitting pain can happen sporadically to anyone anytime. Fun!

Most of the time, you probably pop a couple of OTC tablets and pray to god herself that you can somewhat successfully get through the day. But, unfortunately, that strategy could be doing more harm than good thanks to the high amounts of caffeine in your favorite pain relief meds—since, uh, caffeine does not always help with migraines. Since that whole pop and pray method isn't super effective, some have turned to additional natural remedies to combat their migraine pain at home. Some of those include just straight-up massaging your head.

So, are massages good for migraines?

The short answer: Yes! While she doesn't recommend it as your sole treatment plan if you're suffering from constant migraines, Dr. Mafee explains that massaging your head can still be incredibly helpful in relieving pain. You can do it as soon as you start feeling the pain, smack dab in the middle of the migraine, or even during that awkward time while you're waiting for your prescription meds to work while curled up in bed.

How does a massage for migraine work?

Migraine massages work by applying specific pressure as a means of pain relief, which comes from the traditional Chinese therapy method of acupressure. Applying pressure to certain points on the body alters the pain messages your nerves send to your brain, which means you'll end up feeling less pain than before, per the National Institutes of Health.

So, in theory, Dr. Mafee explains that by using a rubbing motion on certain "pressure points" with your fingers, you'll find some pain relief in that area. Since migraine pain is often found on one or both sides of the head, you're going to want to rub that area—aka your temples.

Before you start massaging your head, consider chatting with a neurologist first to see if this technique is right for you and your pain, as you might need a different treatment plan.

 

What type of massage is good for migraines?

Guys, this head massage is actually super simple and doesn't require shelling out $$ for a fancy deep tissue situation.

Here's how to give yourself a migraine massage according to Dr. Mafee.

  1. Mix two drops each of peppermint oil, frankincense, and lavender oil into one tablespoon of a base oil (like almond). If you don't have the essential oils on hand, using just the base oil is totally fine.
  2. Rub a small bit of your mixture onto your index and middle fingertips.
  3. Massage your temples with those two fingers in a circular motion for 30 seconds.
  4. Switch directions and massage your temples for another 30 seconds.

While a lot of people find success with this technique (my migraine-ridden self included!), Dr. Mafee stresses that it's important that you don't press down too hard. By applying too much pressure you run the risk of the massage hindering any relief and making your migraine worse. Basically, do what feels good to you and don't go over your pain threshold.

Sarah Weldon Associate Lifestyle Editor Sarah is the associate lifestyle editor at Cosmopolitan where she covers food, home, health, career...basically all the things you love to love — follow her on Instagram.  This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io