Written by Kumiko Toya
Now that face masks have become a part of daily life for many of us, we are quickly realizing that they can be uncomfortable after wearing one for a long stretch of time.
Long before the COVID pandemic struck, Japanese people were wearing masks in public as a habit that has been widely practiced. We are also familiar with the discomfort and have our way to resolve them. This week, we are sharing some of the useful mask hacks from Japan!
* Please note: We are not providing medical advice or treatment. If at any time you experience pain, stop immediately.
Wearing a face mask changes your routine. You hold your jaw more tightly to keep the mask from shifting, you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, and you use more muscles when you talk. All these changes of routine plus the straps of the mask behind the ears make your shoulders, neck, and especially your jaw tense. And when your body stiffens up, it can lead to headaches.
Shou San Li Acupressure
Shou San Li (手三里) is a commonly used pressure point for stiff necks. Shou San Li is located on the outer surface of the forearm and three fingers breadth below the elbow crease when the elbow is bent 90 degrees, at the red star in the image above.
Using the thumb of the other hand, massage firmly to feel the good pain.
Gokoku (合谷) is located in the depression between the thumb and first finger. This pressure point is called “the panacea” because of its wide range of effectiveness, particularly to stiff shoulders.
Use the thumb of the other hand and massage firmly.
Fuchi (風池) is located right at the base of the skull, at the top of the back of the neck, in the soft depressions. This pressure point is used to release a headache and stiff shoulders and clears the head.
Massage gently using your finger pads.
This acupressure point is called Taiyo, meaning "The Sun". It is located about one inch in front of your ears, on the temporal muscle that connects the skull and the jaw. Taiyo is a primary focal point for the eye strain and tension headaches. In the ancient medicine, people called it "the point putting eye doctors out of business" because of its great healing effect.
Form a loose fist. Use your second knuckles to apply pressure along the temporal muscle. Give circular rubs. Slide your fingers along the muscle and continue. Opening and closing the mouth a little at the same time may be helpful.
The masseter is a thick muscle that plays a major role in chewing. When you keep clenching your jaw while wearing a mask, it tightens up and eventually gives you a headache.
Locate the kyosya (頬車) point where your jawbone meets your cheek and place the pads of your fingers. Relax your teeth and your jaw. Apply gentle pressure and give circular rubs.
The idea of auricular massage might sound odd to your ears, but in the Eastern medicine, it is believed that important acupressure points are concentrated on the ear. Ear massage is a great way to reduce discomfort caused by mask-wearing. A simple, gentle pull and rub of the ear help boost blood circulation and release endorphins.
Place the ear cartilage between the thumb and forefinger and gently pull it upward away from your head. Let the ear slide through your fingers until it is released.
Breathing through Your Nose
When wearing a mask, you tend to breathe through your mouth, instead of your nose. Our noses work as a filter to prevent debris and micro-organisms from entering the body, so nose-breathing is particularly important in the pandemic situation. Whenever you feel you are mouth-breathing, make sure your mouth is closed and practice slowly inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
Hydrating Your Skin and Lips
Wearing a mask traps heat and builds up moisture. It makes your skin and lips sensitized and dry.
After taking off your mask, keep your lips moist by applying lip balm and sooth your skin with hydrating moisturizer. If you wear makeup, use facial mist so that you can apply it over your makeup. Moisturizer adds a protective layer that can reduce dryness and sensitiveness.
DIY Ear Savers
Try these simple and effective solutions to stop the annoying irritation behind the ears.
Did you enjoy the article? If you have a comment or suggestion to share, we look forward to hearing from you! Reach out by emailing email@example.com