Combatting Sinus Congestion with Massage Therapy
- Treatment Options • January 27, 2020
By Nicole Dagher, RMT
inus problems got you down? Chances are, massage therapy might be able to help!
The mid-winter months can be a tough time for keeping our immune systems healthy and ready to combat the inevitable cold and flu season. Do you suffer from sinusitis, sinus congestion, or tension headaches? If so, sinus massage could be a valuable tool to add to your winter self-care routine. Yes, massage for the sinuses is a “thing,” and massage therapists can use techniques that are aimed at helping to relieve symptoms of tension, inflammation and congestion in your face and/or sinuses.
As part of a sinus massage treatment, a skilled therapist might use specialized techniques, like lymphatic drainage in combination with breath-work, essential oils, hydrotherapy, and tapping or tapotement, to relax the parasympathetic nervous system while stimulating the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Approaching a sinus massage treatment by addressing the body and its various systems as a whole is key in helping to open restricted airways and in alleviating both the severity and frequency of headaches, inflammation, and congestion in the face. Sinus massage not only provides near instant relief from congestion and sinus pain, but can also be used as part of a treatment plan to help decrease the risk of sinus infections and headaches from happening in the first place. Sinus massage can benefit almost anyone; from the common cold and seasonal bronchitis sufferers, to asthmatics, the elderly, and even those with poor thyroid health.
So, what’s the connection to our immune system, you might ask? Well, a strong body of research has shown that regular massage therapy treatments (averaging one 60-minute treatment per month) actually support stronger immune system functioning!
More specifically, the direct manipulation and mobilization of the body’s soft tissues, through the many layers of muscles and fascia, stimulates the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems, the latter of which is responsible for most of the production of our immune cells (such as lymphocytes, monocytes and antibody-producing cells called plasma cells). In fact, Research by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) demonstrates that massage therapy can improve how the immune system functions at the cellular level, helping us to fight-off colds, flu and other seasonal illnesses faster, and with less discomfort along the way. Research from Cedars-Sinai accordingly found that “massage therapy increases the activity of white blood cells that work to combat viruses.” This finding offers promising support for any person wishing to strengthen their immune system through massage therapy and could be of incredible benefit to those with already compromised immune systems.
That means good news for sinus headache and congestion warriors: a regular massage therapy treatment with an added focus to the sinuses, could be exactly what your body needs to keep its own regulating systems and disease-fighting mechanisms in check. Eager to take your first full breath and zap that lingering headache? Take the active approach today: Follow the link below to book your personalized sinus massage treatment and experience the relief you deserve.
Need immediate relief? No problem. Clear your sinuses yourself and induce the same immune-boosting effects at home with these tips for a do it yourself sinus massage:
Part I-Face Steam:
- Wash your face using a mild cleanser or soap with warm water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
- Poor the steaming water into a bowl (preferably metal so it retains the heat) and add desired essential oils and/or herbs. Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender and Lemon essential oils are particularly well-suited for sinus congestion and inflammation.
- Find a comfortable seat and bring your face over the bowl, covering your head with a towel to trap the steam.
- Take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose, focusing on expanding your belly, ribs and chest in that sequence as you inhale for 6 counts, pause; and exhale for 6 counts. Continue steaming your face and focusing on the natural movement of your breath for a minimum of 10 minutes up to 25 minutes.
Part II-Sinus massage:
- Using some lotion, use two fingers to gently knead the space right above your collar bone using a circular motion on both sides. This kick-starts the lymph nodes to begin the drainage process. Repeat 3x
- Next, use the same two fingers to massage from behind both ears, tracing a line on either side of the jaw, meeting the hands underneath the chin. Repeat 3x
- Then, beginning just under the angle of the jaw on either side, make a downward stroke along the sides of the neck to the base of the collar bone. Repeat 3-5x
- Once again, move back up to the space right above your collar bones and knead each side 3x.
- Now, move to the face. Move up the bridge of the nose, stroking over your eyebrows, the forehead and into the temples on either side of the head. Knead the muscle using circular motions. Repeat 3-5x.
- Place your fingertips or thumb pads on the inside corner of the eyebrow just below the brow bone on both sides. You may feel a notch or divot that is sensitive to the touch. Press evenly into this soft tissue space and angle your pressure towards the midline. Hold for a count of 10 seconds or longer if desired.
Please note: Massage Therapy is contraindicated in a clinical setting if any signs of infection (green/yellow mucus) are observed. In this case, please consult your health care provider or physician for the correct diagnosis and treatment protocol.