It's that time of year again, when it seems like everyone at work or school has turned into a flu zombie. While our coworkers and kids are busy spreading their infectious disease, we're trying to avoid their sniffles, sneezes and hacking coughs. But all it takes is one germy doorknob for us to wake up in the morning with a stuffy head, sore throat, and unbearable headache.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ease our cold and flu symptoms, such as eating chicken soup, or rubbing Vicks VapoRub on our chest. Some of us may even run to the pharmacy and grab a few over-the-counter remedies. But, if you have painfully clogged sinuses and don't want to swallow a pill, there is a more natural way to treat it.
However, there is one small caveat - this method of clearing your sinuses involves using your fingers. Don't worry though, you won't have to resort to using 5-year-old kindergarten shenanigans to get rid of the gross stuff clogging up your nostrils! Once you learn how to do this self-care treatment, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
The lymphatic system helps maintain the fluid balance in our bodies, and it's the build-up of fluid in our sinus cavities that's responsible for our stuffy head woes. Clearing those blockages and draining the lymphatic system is pretty much the only way to find long-lasting sinus relief.
That's where lymphatic drainage self-massage comes into play. You've probably never heard of this technique before, but it's very effective at reducing congestion and sinus pressure. Once the blocked fluids drain out of your head, you'll start to breathe easy again.
If you suffer from allergies, headaches, or sinus congestion, then let licensed massage therapist Heather Wibbels show you exactly how to perform this gentle technique. Keep in mind that lymphatic drainage massage uses slow, feather-light pressure at all times, which is the exact opposite of the deep tissue massages that most of us are familiar with.
To start, you'll need to find the Venus angle, which is in the small divot located right above your collarbone. Take your ring finger on each hand, and place them on the two prominent bumps that are found on the inner part of your collarbone. Then slide your hands about an inch up over the collarbone, until you feel soft tissue.
Bingo! You've found the Venus angle! Great, now you'll want to gently pump the area with your fingers, using very light pressure. Go slow, and only pump every one to two seconds, until you've repeated the motion 50 to 100 times.
At this point, Heather notes that you may start to feel a bit of drainage move down your throat. If you feel the need to clear your throat, that's a good sign that this is working!
Now it's time to move to the sides of your neck. Place your fingers and the top part of your palms on either side of the neck, right underneath your ears. Gently start pulling your hands in a downward pumping motion, and repeat 50 times. You may feel a tickle in your throat, but it's okay if you let out a giggle!
Next, move your hands to the back of your neck, and just like you did before, use your fingers and the top part of your palms to gently cup it. Pull your fingers downward in a pumping motion 50 times.
In a nod to Mr. Spock on Star Trek, Heather calls this next finger position the "live long and prosper" symbol. If you're not a sci-fi fan, then stick your pinky and ring finger together, and do the same with your middle and forefinger. There should be a V-shaped gap between your middle and ring finger.
Hold your hands over your ears, and make sure your ear is positioned in the V-shaped gap. Then, pull downward and pump towards the bottom of your cheek. Do this 50 times.
Now it's time to do the sequence in reverse. Gently massage the back of your neck 50 times, the sides of your neck 50 times, and then finish off with 50-100 gentle pumps in the Venus angle, right above your collarbone.
You're all done! You may need to clear your throat a few times, but the congestion and pressure should be greatly reduced.
Please be aware that if you have any medical issues, there are some contraindications you need to know about before you perform this massage on yourself. Heather has a symptom check-list on her blog, and if you have any of the conditions listed, you should talk to your doctor before attempting this technique.
In the video below, Heather shows you how to do a lymphatic drainage self-massage.