If you are one of 40 million Americans who suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies, you are already aware that the season is among us. It’s time to break out the Benadryl, tissues and eye drops but who knew that making an appointment for a massage was among allergy relief treatments?
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapists can help relieve some allergy symptoms by reducing stress, increasing circulation, releasing muscle tension and reprogramming the body’s panic reaction, which can exacerbate symptoms.
While there are few studies researching massage therapy and allergy relief, we do know that massage helps to relieve stress and stress definitely impacts your allergies. Also, just lying in the face down position can provide immediate relief from sinus congestion related to allergies. This position also allows your therapist to work on the upper back and shoulders, where many sinus trigger points are located.
You also may want to add aromatherapy to your massage session. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, pine, menthol, peppermint and lemon placed on points such as temples, neck and ears can open up your sinus cavities and create excellent movement within.
As if your day weren’t full enough, here it comes — the unwelcome intrusion of a headache. It might be the vise grip of a tension headache, the pressure and ache of sinus pain, or the throbbing pain and nausea of a migraine. But you want it gone.
Before you simply pop a pill, “Take a step back and ask, ‘Why am I getting this headache?’ ” says Tara C. Sharma, M.D., board member of the American Association of Integrative Medicine.
Create friendly Head Space
Headaches can be a wake-up call from your body, inviting you to pay more attention to taking care of yourself. “Making yourself a priority isn’t selfish,” Dr. Sharma says. “It’s an investment in your well-being.”
Arrange the rhythms of your day to make room for regular meals and adequate rest since hunger and tiredness trigger headaches. And keep your mind and body on speaking terms through enjoyable exercise and relaxing rituals. Practice yoga, take an evening bath or, like Dr. Sharma, get a weekly massage.
Even a single massage may boost your body’s immune response, suggests a 2010 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Fewer colds can mean fewer sinus infections and headaches.
Ease the Ache
When a headache does come calling, how do you chase it away? Since overuse of medication can trigger rebound headaches, consider these tips:
- Try a little do-it-yourself acupressure. Press your thumb into the web between your opposite thumb and index finger. Hold for 30 to 40 seconds to relieve headache pain. Repeat on the other side.
- Steam away sinus pain and pressure. Put a few drops of eucalyptus and tea tree oil in a bowl of boiling water and breathe in the steam to relieve congestion.
- Breathe. Slow, deep breaths short-circuit the fight-or-flight stress response and activate the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, Dr. Sharma explains.
“The jungle out there is not going to change,” Dr. Sharma says. “It’s how you respond to stress that makes a difference.”
– By Teresa Caldwell Board