Chinese medical massage techniques can be used on the face, forehead, and around the head to reduce headaches and dizziness.

The first is called 揉法 rou fa. Using the large thenar muscle, i.e. the soft fleshy part at the base of thumb where it becomes the palm, Watch the first part of this video to better understand the movement.When used on the face, forehead, or around the head, this movement eases headaches and dizziness, as well as  insomnia. This can be gentler on the temples than using the fingertips. See also this post for another application of this movement.

Tuina face massageThe second method is one of the most difficult I’ve found in tuina: 偏锋推法 pian-feng tui fa. In this method, you use the side of thumb near the nail. The thumb joints remain flexible while the movement is powered by the forearm.  This is one of the lightest and most gentle methods, and is thus appropriate for the face and forehead.  Besides being used to relieve headaches and dizziness, it can also alleviate insomnia and myopia.  This is terrible China cinematography, but watch this video to understand the movement and the application.  Notice how he starts in the center and moves up and down in a straight line, slowly zigzaging to the outer eyebrow, then back to the center and and then over the other eyebrow (up until 1:45).  You don’t have to, and in fact probably shouldn’t, move your hand as fast as in the video. If you find, like me that the side of your thumb is too narrow to be comfortable or the nail is too wide, skip this method or use the fleshy part of your thumb as described above.

Pushing with thumbThe third method is the same one I described for hypertension: 推法 tui fa. Tuifa means pushing in 1 direction and is one of the easiest in all tuina.  In this method, use the thumb pad pressed flat on the skin and apply pressure while moving in a singular direction.

The final commonly used method for headaches is 按法 an fa, known as pressing. This one is also very easy. Using the thumb, middle finger, or 3 middle fingers, start pressing gently then slowly press deeper/harder, hold for several seconds and then gradually get lighter. This is used to stop pain, such as headaches or toothache. It is also used on tendons.

Pressing with thumbs