When the seasons change and your eyes become puffy, your nose fills with congestion and you’re plagued with sneezing, coughing and headaches, your first response to these common allergy season symptoms may be to reach for over-the-counter antihistamine or steroid medications. But, if you’d rather find comfort taking a non-medication route, then turning to massage may prove to help you find relief and reprieve from the uncomfortable side effects associated with allergies.
Provides Non-Medication Alternative to Relieve Allergy Symptoms
Although the cause of allergies can be from a variety of different sources, the most common allergies that Desiray Salchow, massage therapist at Elements Florence, works with, on most of her clients, are ones that stem from seasonal changes in pollen and other outdoor elements. While massage can’t eliminate a person’s allergy to a specific element, it can be a very effective approach to managing allergy symptoms. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the power of massage to relieve the common symptoms associated with allergies comes from the therapy’s ability to reduce stress, increase circulation, release muscle tension and reprogram the body’s panic reaction when it comes into contact with an allergic element.
Facial Massage Promotes Drainage, Pressure Relief
The most common massage approach that Salchow uses when her clients complain from allergy symptoms is a 20-25 minute facial massage that is most commonly known as a sinus drain. It’s important to start a facial massage by placing a warm towel around the forehead, bridge of nose and around the eye area to soften up the muscles and prepare them for the start of the massage. After the muscles are relaxed, Salchow will begin with soft massage strokes on the forehead that push in from the middle to start moving the common congestion that resides in the forehead area.
By gently applying gentle circular pressure on sinus pressure points around the forehead, eyeballs, the bridge of the nose, the sides of the nose near the nostrils and in the area where the jawbone meets with the ear, Salchow can help release the sinus pressure that builds up in her clients’ face and head area. In addition to loosening the pressure in the facial area where you tend to mostly feel the effects of allergies, it also is important for your therapist to loosen the muscles in your neck, especially the ones that attach from your jawbone to your clavicle, to help promote drainage after the sinus pressure is released in the forehead area.
“Some people can get knots or inflammation that builds up along the neck area so you want to massage those muscles by just pinching or doing little circular movements from behind the ear all the way down to the clavicle,” explains Salchow. “You can almost feel the inflammation go away by the end of a session after some stretching and some massage. You just want to make sure after doing the facial massage or hitting those sinus pressure points that the sinuses will be able to drain properly.”
Benefits of Massage Can Have Lasting Positive Results
After receiving a facial massage, many of Salchow’s clients will experience relief from their allergy symptoms for up to two to three weeks. Salchow will show her clients specific pressure points around their eyes, nose and forehead area that they can apply gentle pressure to for relief in-between sessions if they experience sinus pressure or headache tension before they come in for their next massage. She also suggests using essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus to help with allergy relief, as long as the scent doesn’t aggravate your allergies. And, as with any type of massage, Salchow definitely suggests drinking an adequate amount of water after a sinus draining massage to help flush out the congestion in your body.
“Massage is getting more common for people who suffer from allergies, but I wish more people would give massage a chance because a lot of people are so skeptical of it,” explains Salchow. “It can be a great alternative to medicine and can be a great way to help alleviate any pressure or pain you’re feeling from allergies.”