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On Your Health

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Sinus Massage Techniques That Reduce Congestion

The paranasal sinuses are small, air-filled spaces in your skull. They help filter and moisten the air you breathe and lighten the weight of the skull. The paranasal sinuses also help produce the sound of your voice and provide support for your face and eyes.

Whenever you’re sick, the sinuses become obstructed with mucus. This blockage causes congestion and can lead to intense pressure and headaches. While there are nasal sprays and medications to treat symptoms, some simple massage techniques at home can provide you with relief.

 

Sinus types

Before learning about sinus massage techniques, it’s important to have a general understanding of the different types of sinus cavities in your skull. The sinuses are named according to which bones they are in.

  • Ethmoidal sinuses: Located between your eyes, the ethmoidal sinuses are a common source of infection. A headache from an ethmoidal sinus infection is typically felt behind the nose.
  • Maxillary sinuses: Located below your eyes in your cheekbones, this cavity is the biggest and most prone to infection. Pain from the maxillary sinuses can be felt spreading to your teeth.
  • Sphenoidal sinuses: Located behind your eyes toward the back of the head, there are two sphenoidal sinuses that make up the middle portion of the base of the skull. A deep pain is generally felt.
  • Frontal sinuses: Located above your eyes at the lower portion of your forehead, there are two triangular-shaped sinuses that drain into the middle of the nose. Pain or pressure is typically felt on the face and head.

What are the different types of sinuses?

Sinus drainage massage

There are two types of approaches to take when performing a sinus massage. For more general relief, the massage focuses on pressure points on the forehead and face to provide relief. The second type of massage is geared toward specific types of sinus areas (frontal, ethmoid, maxillary and sphenoid).

The idea is to massage pressure points to help drain mucus out of the sinuses. In turn, this will relieve pressure and congestion.

General sinus face massage

To start, place your four fingers on each of your temples and gently massage in a circular motion. If you feel a tense spot, hold and breathe for several seconds. You can continue along parts of your forehead and hairline. 

Next, take your thumb and index finger and place them on your eyebrow closest to your nose while gently pinching down. Hold this position for several seconds. Slowly work your way across the eyebrow toward your ear.

Then take four fingers and place them on the inside of your cheekbone near the bottom of your nose. Gently press and drag your fingers outward. Repeat several times.

As you finish toward the outside of your ear, gently massage the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the lower jaw to the skull. If you can’t find it, open your mouth and you should be able to feel it protrude out.

Finally, make a V with your fingers by separating your middle and index fingers from your ring and pinky fingers. Bring your fingers to your ear and slowly massage this area in an upward and downward motion.

Frontal Sinus Massage

Place your index and middle fingers above your eyebrows and gently rub in a circular motion. Slowly move your fingers diagonally toward the middle of your forehead before slowly moving toward the temples. This should take about 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat one to two more times.

Maxillary Sinus Massage

Using your index and middle fingers, apply pressure near your nose between your cheekbones and jaw. Move your fingers in a circular motion toward your ears. You can use your thumbs instead of your fingers for a deeper massage. This should take 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat one to two more times.

Ethmoid sinus massage

Place your index fingers on either side of your nose bridge. Use small circles to massage this area as you move toward the top of the nose. Slowly work your way back down to the bottom part of the nose. Repeat one to two times. You can also apply pressure in the area where your nasal bone meets your frontal bone. Gently press with your fingers and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.

Sphenoid sinus massage

Using your index fingers, start gently massaging on the side of your head near your ears in an up and down motion. Slowly work your way down to the earlobes. Repeat one to two times.

 

Pressure points to drain sinuses

In addition to manual massages, you can also access sinus pressure points using a technique called acupressure. This ancient healing technique originated in China and uses the same principles as acupuncture – except you use your fingers to trigger the pressure points instead of needles.

Here are some pressure points to trigger to help relieve sinus pain and congestion. Simply press and gently massage these areas for several minutes or until you feel relief.

  • Acupresssure Point BL2: Located where your eyebrow meets your nose, this pressure point can help relieve frontal headaches.
  • Acupresssure Point GB20: Located at the back of your head where the skull meets neck muscles, this pressure point can relieve midline headaches.
  • Acupresssure Point L3: Located on your foot between the tendons of your big toe and second toe, this pressure point can help with headaches.
  • Acupresssure Point LI4: Located on your hand between the thumb and index finger, this pressure point can help relieve sinus congestion.
  • Acupresssure Point LI 20: Located at the base of your nose, this pressure point can help relieve sinus pressure.
  • Acupresssure Point SI18: Located where your cheekbones meet your nose, this pressure point can relieve sinus congestion.

 

While at-home remedies can provide relief from mild sinus infections and sinus-related congestion, you should see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) for more chronic symptoms. To learn more about what these specialists do, visit our blog on ENTs.

 

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