July 12, 2023

5 Sinus Massage Techniques To Relieve Pressure and Promote Drainage

A gentle touch in all the right places may help drain your sinuses

person getting a sinus massage between brows

If you’re prone to sinus congestion, you know the feeling all too well. Puffy eyes. Stuffed up nose. Pressure that makes your whole face hurt.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Maybe it’s allergies. Or a cold. Or the phase of the moon. Or whatever. No matter the reason, you probably want to be rid of that sinus pressure. Fast.

You know that things like neti pots, antihistamines, warm compresses and sleeping with a humidifier can help. A cool washcloth or refrigerated ice pack might do the trick, too. And if it’s a bacterial sinus infection, a round of antibiotics may be needed.

But here’s one you might not have tried: Sinus massage.

Now before your imagination runs wild — no, we’re not talking about massaging the inside of your sinuses (no instruments up the nose here). Rather, we’re talking about applying some light pressure to certain regions of your face to help promote drainage.

“Inflammation in your sinuses leads to a buildup of fluid that causes puffiness and pressure,” explains massage therapist Vickie Bodner, LMT. “Some targeted massage techniques may help to relieve some of that congestion and promote fluid drainage.”

Bodner walks us through a step-by-step sinus self-massage that may help you breathe a little easier.

Why try sinus massage

Your sinuses are the four hollow spaces in each side of your head and face that allow air and mucus to flow. They’re connected by narrow passageways. When all is well, air and mucus make their way through your sinuses and out of your nose without you ever really even thinking about it.

But when your sinuses become inflamed, those passages narrow. That gums up the works. Mucus gets trapped and it becomes a chore to breathe out of your nose. The result? A pile of used tissues filling up your trash can and aches in your face and behind your eyes.

Advertisement

Sound familiar?

Although there aren’t any research studies to support this practice, in Bodner’s experience, massage may help to get things flowing again.

How to massage your sinuses

You have four sinus cavities each side in your face. The two largest are the frontal and maxillary sinuses.

Your frontal sinuses are located in the bottom part of your forehead. They’re right around the innermost parts of each of your eyebrows.

Your maxillary sinuses are just under your eyes, behind your cheekbones on each side of your face.

“To get sinus relief from massage, you’ll want to target any areas where you feel sinus discomfort — whether in your forehead, cheeks or both,” Bodner says. “Remember, though, that you’ll want to use a very light touch with any sinus massage. You don’t want to add extra pressure to those inflamed sinus cavities.”

Going too hard on those sinuses can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness or even vertigo. So, take it easy.

1. Frontal sinus pressure point

One place in your frontal sinuses can help get some fluids moving. It’s a pressure point near the inner corners of your eyebrows where your frontal sinuses drain to your nose.

Advertisement
  1. Gently, trace your index fingers up along each side of your nose, just to where your nose starts to curve to meet your orbital bone (eye bone) near your eyebrows. You may feel a slight ridge there.
  2. Rest your fingers on that point, applying very light pressure.
  3. Release the pressure for a second, then reapply the same light pressure. Or rotate your fingers in very small circles at that spot.
  4. Perform for about five to 10 seconds, if that feels good.

The key is to keep the pressure minimal. Your eyebrows shouldn’t move or squish beneath your fingers.

“You want to be really gentle here because you’re working around that delicate tissue near your eyes,” Bodner advises. “Resist the temptation to dig in. The idea is to allow your body to release itself. You don’t want to force it. It should feel like the weight of a penny on your face.”

This pressure point may be a little tricky to find, but once you find it, you’ll feel it. You may notice increased warmth or a tingly feeling. That’s a sign it’s working.

2. Frontal sinus pinch

  1. Starting at the innermost part of your eyebrows, gently pinch your brows between your thumb and forefinger.
  2. Hold for a second or two and move slightly outward, toward your temples.
  3. Repeat until you reach the ends of your eyebrows. It should take four or five gentle pinches to get across your brows.

3. Maxillary sinus pressure point

  1. Gently trace your index fingers down along each side of your nose, just to where your nostrils meet your cheeks. (Right at the top of your “smile lines.”) You may feel slight divots there.
  2. Rest your fingers on that point, applying very light pressure.
  3. Release the pressure for a second, then reapply the same light pressure. Or rotate your fingers in very small circles at that spot.
  4. Perform for about five to 10 seconds, or however long feels good for you.

4. Maxillary sinus sweep

  1. Use your index fingers to gently press either side of your nose, at the base of your nostrils.
  2. Circle under your cheekbones, toward your ears, and up to your temples, above your eyebrows and down the sides of your nose. You’ll make a full circle, starting back where you started.
  3. Try it the other direction, too.
  4. Complete about five circles or as many as feel good.

5. Frontal sinus sweep

  1. Start with four fingertips (not your thumb) on each of your eyebrows at the innermost point, nearest your nose.
  2. Use your fingertips to slowly sweep up and out over your brow line from your nose to your temples.
  3. With each sweep, move up your forehead about a half inch until you reach your hairline.

When to see a provider

Sinus pressure can be related to a range of conditions. And sometimes, you’ll need more than home remedies and self-massage to relieve it.

Most importantly, bacterial sinus infections, for example, may require treatment with antibiotics or other prescription medications. Talk with a healthcare provider if your pain is accompanied by a fever or pain that doesn’t improve with at-home treatments or if you have chronic sinus pain (lasting 10 days or more).

Related Articles

Person relaxing in bathtub
February 2, 2024
How To Relieve Muscle Soreness After a Massage

The same things you do to treat sore muscles after exercise can help treat soreness after a massage

female with fingers pressing on bridge of nose in distress
January 4, 2024
Got a Sinus Infection That Won’t Quit? When To Worry

Give it seven to 10 days, but if your symptoms linger or get worse, it’s time to see a healthcare provider

2 people practicing thai massage
May 17, 2023
Thai Massage: What It Is and 5 Benefits

Focused on stretching and yoga poses, it can increase flexibility and ease back pain

man using massage gun after lifting weights
February 13, 2023
Try a Massage Gun for Relieving Aches and Pains

These percussive devices can help relax muscles when seeing a masseuse isn’t an option

Person reclining on couch using nasel spray to alleviate pressure in sinuses.
January 11, 2023
Relieve Sinus Congestion and Pressure at Home

From nasal sprays to neti pots, these home remedies can help relieve your symptoms

Woman getting a prenatal massage.
November 7, 2022
Prenatal Massage Benefits and Safety

Different from a regular massage, prenatal massages are gentle with light pressure

man putting garlic in nose
December 5, 2021
Can Putting Garlic in Your Nose Relieve Congestion?

Here’s one TikTok trend you shouldn’t try

man using roller on back
February 4, 2021
Massage Rollers and More: How to Ease Neck, Back and Body Pain with Simple Tools

Foam tubes and rubber balls can help when you hurt

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad