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Traditional Chinese medicine centers on the concept of qi, or energy, which is the life force that flows inside the body through different routes or pathways known as meridians. (1) Any blockage or disruption in the flow of this energy can trigger stress or pain, hamper blood circulation, compromise the immune system, and pave the way for ailments.
Acupressure, like acupuncture, is an ancient therapy that has originated from this school of medicine that aims to correct any such energy disruptions. It involves the application of manual pressure, using the fingers, on specific points of the body to alleviate energy blockages and stimulate the proper flow of energy. (2)
This pressure is applied to the same points on the body as acupuncture needles would be placed. When proper energy flow is restored, the body returns to balance. It is when the body becomes out of balance that disease and dis-ease can set in.
Acupressure Points for Pain Relief and Other Problems
Acupressure points are stimulated to provide relief from the following discomforts:
1. Headaches – LI4
Acupressure point LI4 (Joining the Valley) is located on the “meaty” part of the back of the hand, between the metacarpal of the thumb and of the first finger, but closer to the metacarpal of the first finger.
Manual pressure to LI4 is indicated for alleviating headache pain on one side of the head or for pain that seems to encompass the whole head. (3)
2. Nausea and vomiting – P6
Acupressure point P6 (Inner Pass) is located on the palm side of the forearm, approximately one-thumb length from the wrist, between the ulnar and the radial bones.
Manual pressure to P6 is indicated for alleviating nausea, vomiting, and hiccups. (4)
3. Fatigue and eye strain – GV24.5
Acupressure point GV24.5 lies at the center of the forehead at a one-finger distance above the eyebrow gap.
Applying pressure to this point can help induce mental relaxation, promote mental acuity, improve mental projection, and strengthen your intuitive instincts. It is generally manipulated to relieve stress, sinusitis, dizziness, vertigo, and headaches. (5)
4. Eye problems – MHN6
Acupressure point MHN6 (Fish Waist) is located on the eyebrow, above the pupil when looking straight ahead.
Manual pressure to MHN6 is recommended to stimulate “the sinews of the eyes” and relieve eye pain. It is also overall, generally beneficial to the eyes.
5. Stomach problems – ST36
Acupressure point ST36 (Leg Three Miles) is located on the front side of the lower leg, between the tibia and the fibula, close to the knee. (6)
Manual pressure to ST36 is indicated for alleviating stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, gas, and heartburn.
6. Arthritis and sciatica – B54
Acupressure point B54 (Commanding Middle) is located on the outside ankle, in the space between the bone and the Achilles tendon. (7)
Manual pressure to B54 is indicated for alleviating sciatica, low back pain, ankle pain, and pain behind the knee.
7. Insomnia and stress – B10
Acupressure point BL10 (Celestial Pillar) is located on the back of the head, at the base of the skull, on either side of the cervical spine.
Manual pressure to BL10 is indicated for alleviating dizziness, headache, stiffness, and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It also helps reduce manic behavior.
8. Poor concentration – LV3
Acupressure point LIV3 (Great Rushing) is located on the top of the foot between the first metatarsal (big toe) and second metatarsal, close to the cuboidal bones of the foot.
Manual pressure to LIV3 is indicated for alleviating insomnia, irregular menstruation, (8) jaundice, and low back pain. It can also enhance clear thinking.
9. Lung infection – LU1
Acupressure point LU1 (Middle Palace) is located slightly below the corner where the end of your collar bone meets your shoulder.
Manual pressure to LU1 is indicated for alleviating cough, wheezing, sore throat, and nasal congestion. (9)
10. Blurred and diminished vision – BL2
Acupressure point BL2 (Gathered Bamboo) is located at the beginning of the eyebrow, toward the nose, where you can feel a depression in the brow bone. (10)
Manual pressure to BL2 is indicated for alleviating pain in the brow region associated with headache and blurred and diminished vision. It is also suggested for reducing manic behavior.
Uses of Acupressure
Acupressure helps alleviate a variety of maladies, including:
It is known to have the following therapeutic effects that can improve both your physical and mental well-being:
- Reduces tissue adhesion
- Stimulates blood circulation in the area of application
- Triggers parasympathetic nervous activity
- Increases intramuscular temperature
- Curbs neuromuscular excitability
Should Acupressure Be Done by an Experienced Professional?
Once you understand which points correspond to which ailments, it is not necessary for you to be an acupressure professional to perform many acupressure techniques.
The simple guidelines presented in the next section are tips to keep in mind for performing acupressure on yourself or a family member. However, it is very important that you seek a proper diagnosis from an experienced professional to ensure that you are performing the technique on the correct area for the diagnosed ailment.
Important Points to Remember
When performing acupressure on yourself or others, keep the following in mind:
- Means: You can use your thumbs or fingertips.
- Depth: Press hard enough to stimulate the energy flow. The sensation might be somewhat uncomfortable but should not be so hard that you would leave a bruise.
- Length of time: Pressure can be applied for as long as tolerated, which can be anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. (12)
- Frequency: Acupressure can be performed as often as needed, as long as you are not distracted from activities that require your full focus, such as driving.
How Many Acupressure Points Are on the Body?
Acupressure points are areas along a meridian where energy can become blocked and where manual pressure can most effectively release the resulting tension, numbness, or pain.
There are 12 meridians in the body, and although they correspond to major organs, the musculoskeletal system is closely tied to all of the channels. (13)
Acupressure is a non-invasive technique that can help relieve both physical and psychological distress, provided it’s done correctly. Doing it wrong can exacerbate your problems, so it’s best not to do it without proper training or guidance.