The good news is that you don’t need to know exactly where the muscles are or what their names are. Wherever it hurts and feels tense around the suboccipital area, apply gentle but firm pressure, two or three minutes at one place, then move to the next tender spot.
Personally, I start with the mid-centerline right underneath the occiput, using my middle finger on both sides, tilting the head slightly backward. Very often, I am startled to find out how much of tension there is on that point. About two minutes will do the job.
Then, I move my fingers downward, slightly outside of the mid-centerline. I stay at tender spots for about two minutes.
The next step is go to wherever there is tenderness in the whole region. Since I am well aware of major acupuncture points in the area, I go through several points such as:
- Gallbladder 20: Headache; visual dizziness; pain and stiffness of the neck; painful reddening of the eyes; deep-source nasal congestion; pain in the shoulder and back; heat diseases; common cold; epilepsy.
- Bladder 10: Pain and stiffness of the neck, occipital headaches, upper back/shoulder pain, cold and flu symptoms, eye pain and blurry vision, epilepsy, manic episodes, excessive talking.
- GV 16: headaches, stiff neck, aversion to cold and wind, dizziness, numbness, twitching of eyelids, asthma, difficulty of breathing, MANIA and Hysteria.
Some people use tennis ball, massage instruments, and/or some other apparatus. I’ve found that nothing works better, faster than your own fingers. If you have bad arthritis on the fingers, use some towel, roll it up tightly, and lay on top of it, placing the towel right under the occiput.
It usually takes 10 minutes to release the tension in the suboccipital area. You will be amazed at how wonderful you will feel if you practice these self-acupressure on yourself. Not only your tension and headaches will be minimized, you will feel much clearer in your thinking, even feel peaceful. If you have tendency to have “excessive nervous talking, mania, and/or hysteria,” this self massage will certainly help a great deal.
The suboccipital muscles are a group of four muscles located on each side of the back of the neck just below the base of the skull. The muscles connect the skull with the top two vertebrae of the neck. Located right underneath the occipital bone (the pronounced protrusion of the back of the head), there are four paired muscles as shown in the picture.
These muscles are designed to sit right on top of the cervical spine, however, most of us tend to lean forward habitually. Texting, using computers, or even when we eat, we place our ears way forward than our shoulders. As a result, these suboccipital muscles tend to get stretched too much on one wide, crunched up, and stiffened over time. Misalignment of the suboccipital muscles becomes a prime cause of head and neck tension and shoulder aches. Prolonged neck tension may permeate toward the frontal area, causing temple and frontal headaches, and may interfere with the blood flow to the eyes, resulting in painful & burning eye syndromes.
Over the course of years of treating human body, I’ve found close to 100% of people over the age of 35 have very stiff neck. Stiff and rigid neck often accompany migraines, shoulder pain, frontal sinus headaches, and eye pain. It’s hard to believe, but stiff neck is also directly associated with the lower back and sacrum pain. There’s an easy way to deal with these issues: self-massage the suboccipital muscles, behind your head.
To deal with leg cramps that do not respond well to those lighter version remedies, here are a few things you can try.
- Soak your feet in hot water mixed with epsom salt for 20 minutes. Fill hot (lukewarm rarely works) water in a basin big enough to hold both feet, then add ½ cup of epsom salt. Water level has to be high enough to cover the ankles. Put your feet into the basin, regardless how hot the water initially feels. With heat, all six meridians running on your feet– kidneys, liver, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder–start to open up and Qi and blood flow into the areas of blockage. Chinese medicine regards every single disorder, including leg cramps, as stagnation of Qi and blood flow. Approximately 20 minutes later, you will feel warm and tingly sensation in the lower half of the body.
(Note: Our feet have the most and largest pores of the body, therefore with salt will not only draws toxins out of the body, the body absorbs the magnesium in epsom salts. This method effectively deals with chronic arthritis in the feet and ankles, plantar fasciitis, achilles heel tendonitis, and even toenail fungus infections.)
- After the foot bath, make a fist and rub on the center of the soles.
3. Press and knead on the following points: Taixi (KD3), Kun Lun (BL60), Cheng Shan (BL57), Yang Ling Quan(GB 34), Zu San Li (ST36). Use the thumb to knead forcefully on each point for 30 seconds.
- Squeeze and roll the calf muscles with both hands, begin at the ankle and move gradually upwards, for 2 minutes.
The above is suggested to be a routine before sleep. You can try one or more of the above remedies to find out to which protocols your body reacts most favorably. In a few days, most of your leg cramps will be eliminated.
Chronic and persistent leg cramps usually indicate serious internal orders, most notably pre-diabetic conditions or active diabetes. Please pay attention to your sugar consumptions, and other lifestyle or diet changes.
- pains in the spine, neck, arms, knees, feet, joints
- muscular pains
- postoperative pains
- phantom pain
For muscle pain, apply the aluminium foil on the sore spot and fasten it with a bandage or a medical tape. Leave it for the entire day or overnight.
For joint pain such as elbows, knees, legs or fingers, you can wrap the foil around the area of pain and fasten it with a medical tape. Again leave it for the entire day or overnight.
Use the same procedure for post-surgical pain, burns, or phantom pain. Apply the therapy for 10 to 12 days and then take a one to two week break. If the ailments persist, you may repeat the therapy. For extensive burns or postoperative pain, use 5-7 layers of foil, with a paper or cotton cloth between every layer. Keep it on for an hour, remove them and place them after 2 hours. Repeat the procedure a few times a day until you notice an improvement.
All of my patients asked which side of foil they have to use. The answer is both shiny and matte sides would work equally well.
Aluminum foil may or may not eliminate pain sensations totally, but since this therapy costs practically nothing and so little efforts, it can be a welcome tool to many people.
According to a Russian scientist A.V. Skvorcov, aluminum foil’s unique energy-magnifying properties makes healing possible. He said that all pain symptoms occur due to distorted energy pattern between human cells and Earth’s energy field. Since the surface of the foil can amplify Earth’s energy field dramatically, placing the foil directly on the area of pain will negate the disturbed energy patterns.
From a Chinese medical point of view, his claims make a lot of sense in that all pain syndromes (as well as all diseases) are caused by blockage or stagnation of energy (Qi) flow in the body. Since the foil’s surface can draw upon huge amount Qi from the air, applying the foil directly on the sore spots will result in abundant flow of Qi. Once Qi flows, blood flows in automatically, then pain sensations can be reduced, if not totally eliminated.
In many ways, tin foil can work just like acupuncture needles. In Japanese-style acupuncture, foil has been used widely in treating burns, scars, and bone-pains. Typically, some sort of electric stimulation gadgets are attached to the foil to increase the Qi conductivity.
Years ago when I was attending a Chinese medical school, a noted medical scholar from China proclaimed that aluminum foil often produce amazing results in treating pain syndromes, from lower back pain to a gout pain on the toes. I’ve completely forgot about it until few weeks ago when a patient asked whether there’s anything she could do at home in relieving a horrendous elbow pain. I told her to cover the elbow with foil. She reported that pain was reduced significantly after three days. Very much intrigued, I urged a patient with ear pain to cover the painful area with foil. Again, the results were impressive. Although tin foil doesn’t get rid of pain totally, it sure looks like a wonderful tool in dealing with all kinds of pain, from head to toe.