Four self massage tricks for headaches, sinus pain and tinnitus

self massage for headaches, sinus pressure and tinnitus

Release cranial pressure and pain with your hands


For as long as I can remember my sinuses have been an issue, especially in the winter. When my Lyme disease was severe, I felt like I had a full time sinus infection, complete with an awful headache.

I still get Lyme headaches at times, and they like to settle around my sinuses and try to drive me to drink. Here are four simple tricks that I use whenever a sinus headache threatens my peace of mind. They are easy to learn, and they work whether or not you have Lyme.

Find a cozy spot to lie down, and let your body guide you toward what feels best. If you focus on your breath and the subtle feelings in your body as you practice, this becomes a deeply relaxing form of meditation.

Self massage for sinus pain

Place the heels of your hands against your cheekbones, on either side of your nose, so that your fingers are facing out toward your ears. Press in slowly, until it “hurts so good”.

Continue pressing, and imagine you are slowly moving your cheekbones wider, away from each other. Experiment with changing the levels of pressure, the parts of your cheekbone you press into, and the angle you press along. Use the thumb side of your hand’s heel to curve under your cheekbone slightly, and your pinkie side of your hand’s heel to curve over the top of your cheekbone. Alternate pressing first one, then the other.

You should be able to feel a pleasantly painful stretching in your sinuses, and in the joint where your cheekbone meets the bone beneath. Follow this feeling, letting it guide you. When you finish your sinuses may feel clearer and more comfortable.

Palming your eyes soothes headaches

Palming the eyes is an old Buddhist trick to relax the eyes and improve vision. The Bates Method took up the banner, and teaches it today for the same reasons. I learned palming as a fourth grader from a Bates Method teacher, when I started to become near sighted. Unfortunately I still need glasses, but palming definitely relaxes muscles all around my eyes, and is a great tool for getting rid of headaches.

Place a palm over each eye, so that your eye rests in the hollow center of your palm, and you are able to put slight pressure all around the bones of your eye sockets. Let your palms block out all light. Play with subtle movements of your hands, changing pressure, and notice the feelings the movement produces around your eyes and even through your entire head.

As you rest, imagine that you are looking into a sea of absolute blackness. You will see little sparks and patterns of color as you rest your eyes. According to Bates, this is a result of tension held in the eyes. As your eyes relax, the color you see will become blacker and blacker.

Eventually you may be able to see perfect blackness, without the sparks and patterns. According to Bates, this means you have released all the tension in your eyes. I have never achieved this! But still, the exercise feels deeply relaxing, and softens away headache pain and pressure.

Cranial bone release eases sinus pressure

This is an exercise to lift the frontal bones, which make up your eyebrows and forehead, up off their connecting joint with the mandible – the bones below.

Place your fingertips underneath your eyebrows, and gently press upward. Press your eyebrow ridge both up and slightly out, broadening the bridge of your nose. This bone can handle quite a bit of pressure. Slowly increase the pressure until it “hurts so good”.

Explore pressing first one brow and then the next, varying the pressure, and moving along the underside of your brows. Your body will guide you.

Stretching the ear canal relieves tinnitus

This sounds weird, but I swear it works. Stick your pointer fingers into your ears, with your finger pad facing toward your jaw. Firmly grab behind your ear lobe with your thumbs, giving yourself a good grip.

Gently pull outward, away from your head. You may be surprised how far you can pull your ears! Vary the angle and your hold slightly, until you feel a deep stretch inside your ear canal. Again, look for it to “hurt so good”. The goal is to open and stretch your inner ear canal. It gets tight in there!

Twist your ear canals slightly, following your body’s lead. Try pulling each ear in a slightly different direction. Try yawning while you stretch. When you are done, notice if any ringing in your ears has gone away, and if you feel more relaxed around your jaw.


I hope you enjoy these self massage tools as much as I do. But if all of this is just too much work, try my Cranial Healing meditation. It uses the Buddhist imagery of visualizing perfect blackness, as well as other images to relieve sinus pressure, headaches and tinnitus.

Thank you so much for reading. Please pass this post along to anyone you know who might enjoy pulling on their ears.