Listen Up, Migraine Sufferers– This Tool Changed The Game
If you’ve suffered from migraines your whole life, like I have, you’re probably tired of hearing “have you had plenty to eat and drink?” or “just try laying down”. It’s comments like these that really give me a headache.
For years, I have tried different medications, changing my diet, balancing my hormones, and even sitting in dark rooms listening to vibrational Tibetan singing bowls, hoping it would affect my brain waves or something– crazy, I know, but they were desperate times.
It wasn’t until I tried physical therapy that my world was opened up to new solutions. I noticed some improvement to the frequency in which I was having migraines, but it wasn’t until I picked up a gua sha, that everything changed.
What is a gua sha?
A gua sha is a massage tool, typically made from rose quartz, used to relieve tension and boost circulation in your face and body. This therapeutic stone has a history in traditional Chinese medicine– ‘Gua’ meaning scrape and ‘Sha’ meaning petechia, the rash or bruising left from deep massages with the stone. The idea behind the stone is to maintain flow beneath the skin’s surface, promoting blood flow and stimulating lymphatic drainage.
Before you start, it is important to cleanse the surface of your skin and apply oil, serum, or moisturizer. Applying a product for slip allows the gua sha to gently glide across the skin without irritation. I personally like to use a facial oil with squalane as it is deeply moisturizing, non-comedogenic, and a great regulator for your natural oils. Always use the gua sha at a 15-45 degree angle so the front face of the stone is nearly touching the skin as it is more effective.
The ridge is perfect for the chin, jawline, and neck as its v-shaped angle can perfectly form with these body parts. The long edge I would recommend for scraping across the forehead, chin, arm, leg, back, neck, and shoulder; the flat surface is perfect for long sweeping motions. For shorter sweeps on softer areas like the cheek, temple, and parts of the forehead, I would recommend the rounded edge. Finally, the pointed edge works best for acupressure techniques along the hand, foot, temple, and areas around the eye.
The motions I will recommend can be divided into two types of migraine sufferers: tension and sinus. They are not exclusive to each category, and can even be beneficial for both types of migraine sufferers.
The tension migraine
Starting with the ridge of the gua sha, gently push the two pointed edges into the soft tissue on either side of your nose near the eye. The v-shape can rest right on the bridge of your nose, allowing the two points to rock up and down toward the brow. You can also use a small circular motion to massage the muscle, but use care as it is a delicate area around the eye.
The second motion is another acupressure technique but this time, on the temple. First, anchor the pointed edge onto the temple, massaging in circular motions. Move the anchor point to various spots on the temple where you feel tension, including along the hairline and in front of the ear. When you have finished with the acupressure, switch to the rounded edge, and make short sweeping movements from the corner of the eye, out into the hairline. This will promote movement & blood flow within the temple muscles.
The third motion, using the ridge, should start at the chin with the v-shape hugging your jawline. At a 45 degree angle, drag the stone back toward your ear, finishing at the neck. Continue this motion 5 times each side. Feel free to add extra motions here if you tend to clench your jaw or grind your teeth while you sleep. This motion will help relax the tension and create a sculpted look.
The final motion, for the neck, has two parts. First, use the long edge of the gua sha to gently scrape downward starting just below the ear, following through to the shoulder. After 5 complete motions, switch to the ridge of the gua sha and follow the same massage pattern. This step is important to finish with because it sweeps everything down and away from the face allowing for complete drainage and blood flow.
Finding your knot
As it turns out, some migraine sufferers have one main knot (or more), hiding somewhere within their body. Mine hides on the nape of my neck off to the left side of the spine. This was crucial for me as I was able to use the pointed edge of the gua sha for a deeper acupressure massage, relieving the muscle, and untangling this complex lump.
The sinus migraine
The first motion for the sinus migraine is using the rounded edge. Drag the stone from the bridge of the nose, swooping outward across the cheekbone. The first few motions can start close to the under eye area, then work downward scooping under the cheekbone. This motion will stimulate drainage in the maxillary sinus gland in the face.
The second motion focuses on the eye area. Using the pointed edge of the gua sha, glide from the corner of each eye, out and around toward the temple. Be sure to scrape over and under the eye, allowing the eye muscle to relax. Be sure to use firm yet gentle motions in this area.
The next motion is a continuation of the second, expanding the gliding area up toward the brow. I would also recommend switching to the long edge of the gua sha, as there is more surface area to work with. Starting at the center of your forehead, glide the gua sha over your brow and out toward the temple.
For the final sinus motion, using the long edge again, start at the browline and scrape upward toward the hairline. I find it’s best to start in the middle of the face and with each upward motion, move an inch or so to the left or right of the face, scraping the entire forehead.
Is this for me?
You might be wondering “what kind of crazy hippie suggests I replace my migraine medication with a rock” and I would agree. I do not recommend you stop taking your medication, however, with the regular use of a gua sha, you may find yourself reaching less for that pill bottle. If you especially suffer with tension migraines, or work at a desk, I would suggest picking one up and giving it a try.
Where can I get one?
My favorite: ESW Beauty, Hibiscus White Tea Rose Quartz Gua Sha
It retails for $32 on eswbeauty.com but be sure to check out the bundles for savings.
The stone is made from real rose quartz, which is known for its healing properties including reducing high blood pressure, clarifying the skin, and increasing blood circulation. It is also inspired by hibiscus white tea because it works quite like the benefits of the tropical flower.
Not only have I noticed a significant decrease in the frequency of my migraines but I have noticed better posture and more flexibility in my neck. I find using a gua sha can not only benefit migraine sufferers but those that get allergies and sinus pain as well. My tip is always make sure the stone is real- it makes a big difference. Not only does it feel better, but you can cool it or heat it without the worry of melting it.