Why does rubbing your head help relieve pain after a minor injury?

Learn how rubbing your head can alleviate pain after injury. Pressure sensation plays a role in pain relief.

Why does rubbing your head help relieve pain after a minor injury?
Photo by Emily Sea / Unsplash

The human body has sensory nerves that transmit signals to the brain, interpreting sensations such as pressure, pain, temperature, and stretch.

The brain processes one sensation at a time.

The Battle of Sensations

Pressure seems to hold dominance among sensations.

When applying pressure to an injury, it can diminish the experience of pain.

The Science Behind Rubbing Your Head

Rubbing your head after hitting it acts as a form of applying pressure to the affected area, momentarily overpowering the feeling of pain.

This action engages the sensory nerves to process the pressure, overshadowing the pain signals and providing relief.

Understanding the Mechanism

Rubbing the head stimulates pressure receptors in the skin, sending signals to the brain that overshadow the pain signals, effectively mellowing out the experience of pain.

The Psychological Effect

Rubbing the injury site triggers a psychological response, serving as a distraction and a form of self-soothing, diverting attention away from the discomfort and contributing to the perceived relief.

Next time you instinctively reach for your head after a minor bump, know that it's not just superstition—there's a scientific basis behind it.

Whether it's the sensory nerves prioritizing different sensations or the psychological distraction, the act of rubbing your head can indeed make it feel better.