Health

10 Acupressure Points for Pain Relief That Will Upgrade Your QOL

Acupressure therapy is a practice that has been used for thousands of years. The Chinese began using it as a system of medicine over 2,500 years… Tayana - September 22, 2017

Acupressure therapy is a practice that has been used for thousands of years. The Chinese began using it as a system of medicine over 2,500 years ago and it is now used as an alternative therapy all over the world.

The basis of acupressure is to apply pressure to specific acupressure points on your body to treat illness and promote relaxation. There are thought to be more than 400 of these points, which lie on meridians – a pathway in the body where vital energy –qi (chi) is thought to flow.

In acupressure, there are 12 major meridians that connect specific organs. When illness occurs, it is because one or more of these meridians are blocked. Therefore applying pressure to specific pressure points along those meridians can effectively help to release the energy and rebalance the body.

These are 10 of the most important pressure points for tackling pain and other health issues.

1. Arthritis and Sciatica: Commanding Middle

Many of us experience back pain and joint stiffness for any number of reasons. It is estimated that at least one-third of the population is suffering from some form of back pain at any one time. Whether lifestyle related, or due to an ongoing condition, acupressure has been found to be effective to reduce stiffness, and increase mobility.

The acupressure point used for targeting back pain, and arthritic pain in the back, knee, and hips, is called the ‘commanding middle’ (B54). It can be effective for tackling sciatica – a compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve which runs from your hips to your feet, causing lower back pain.

The evidence is so strong for the effectiveness of the use of this pressure point, that a study published online by the British Medical Journal in 2006 noted that acupressure could be more effective than physical therapy for relieving lower back pain in the long term (lasting over 6 months.)

This pressure point is on the bladder meridian, the longest and most complex meridian, which begins at the eyelid and travels down the head, back down through the sacrum and to the spine. It then goes along the middle of the buttock, and down along the back of the thigh, ending at the baby toe. It is, therefore, a pressure point that has also been found to help with urinary and bladder conditions.

The commanding middle is located exactly at the center of the back of the kneecaps. To activate this pressure point you need to gently press on it for one minute, and then repeat on the other leg. This should be carried out daily to reduce persistent pain.

2. Chronic Fatigue and Eye Strain: The Third Eye Point

The Third Eye acupressure point (GV 24.5) is a special point located outside of the primary energy pathways. It is known as a ‘Yintang’ point, which literally translates as ‘ Central Mark’.

It thought to be good for many conditions relating to your head and mind. Massaging the point, located in the middle of your forehead, has been shown to reduce chronic fatigue, headaches, depression, insomnia and eye strain, as well as improve memory and concentration. Due to its proximity to your nasal passageways, it has also been shown to relieve sinus pain and congestion.

The Third Eye Point connects to the homeostatic mechanisms of the pituitary gland, which is located just behind the bridge of the nose. The pituitary gland is considered a master gland because it controls several other hormone glands in your body, including the thyroid and adrenals, the ovaries and testicles.

To find your third eye point, place your middle finger on the bridge of your nose between your eyebrows. Apply gentle pressure, and you should feel a gentle pressure in your eye sockets. Apply this pressure for up to a minute and then release. Again, this can be more effective if you take slow, deep breaths whilst applying this pressure. The pressure should always only feel gentle and never cause discomfort. Acupressure practitioners may also encourage you to close your eyes and focus on this third eye point whilst applying the pressure, this can be useful within not only pain relief, but also meditation.

The method was shown to be so effective at improving memory and relieving stress, that psychologist Sigmund Freud used to use it on his patients to help uncover repressed memories.

3. Nausea and Vomiting: Pericardium

The pericardium (P6) is the acupressure point located between the two large tendons on the inside of your wrist, about two finger widths from the base of your palm. Pericardium means ‘around the heart’ and refers to the channel starts in that area, deep inside the chest. It is also known as Neiguan, in Chinese, or Inner Gate.

It is considered useful to tackle nausea and vomiting caused by various reasons including motion sickness, pregnancy, post-surgery, and post-chemotherapy. It can also help relieve headaches, chest pain, upset stomach and carpal tunnel syndrome pain. Some studies have even shown that it can stop persistent hiccups.

To find the pericardium you should turn your hands over so the palm is facing up, and then use your finger to apply downward pressure tracing from the middle of your wrist moving down your arm towards your elbow between the two tendons. With moderate pressure, you should then hit an area of increased tenderness – this is your pressure point. To feel its benefit – try gently massaging and stimulating the area with your index and middle fingers for a couple of minutes. You may need to repeat this several time for maximum effect.

This acupressure point has been proven to be so effective at quelling nausea, which pressure wristbands now exist to help people who suffer from regular nausea related conditions such as motion sickness. These are available from many drug or health food stores. These have, however, been a point of controversy for many traditional acupressure practitioners who do not believe that it is healthy to have constant pressure applied to a sensitive acupressure site. They argue that overuse of the pericardium ultimately makes acupressure on this site less effective.

4. Headaches: Joining the Valley

From the image above, you can see why this technique has its name – joining the valley, or in Chinese – Hegu.

Joining the Valley (LI 4) is a popular technique for getting rid of headaches, back and shoulder pain, and help with arthritis. It has a nickname in the West ‘The Dentist’s’ point because it can effectively stop tooth pain. It has a clear connection to the body’s immune system and can act as a decongestant, to clear a stuffy nose and help eliminate colds and flu. It is also useful in aiding bowel movements, and therefore can be useful to tackle constipation.

To find ‘ the Great Eliminator’ (the pressure point responsible for all the benefits just mentioned), massage the fleshy area between your thumb and finger at the highest point of muscle when thumb and finger are brought close together. To find it on another person, you can hold their hand with your opposite hand. If you hold your partner’s thumb against the hand and look for the crease in the mound, and then press slowly into the crease.

Applying moderate pressure, and massaging each of these points on both hands for several minutes should help relieve any pain that you’re feeling. Make sure that you are pressing into the bone of the hand, pressing the tip of your thumb along the bone. You can increase its effectiveness by taking slow, deep breaths whilst holding these points.

The acupressure points are to be pressed with moderate pressure for a few seconds up to a couple of minutes and then released. For best results, take slow, deep breaths as you hold the acupressure points.

Warning: This is one of the acupressure points you should not press during pregnancy.

5. Emotional Healing: Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility acupressure point is known as such as it is considered the best point to relieve anxiety and stress and restore emotional balance. It is also known as Conception Vessel 17 (CV 17) and is often used to prevent panic attacks, and restore a sense of calm in periods of anxiety, nervousness, depression or hysteria. It helps to deepen your breathing and stimulates your thymus gland, which can also help to boost your immune system.

It is easy to find, at the center of your breastbone, around 4 finger widths up from the base of the bone. Use your fingers to run up and down the breastbone, and you should feel a small indentation at the pressure point. For a man, this will be located in between his nipples.

If your hands are in prayer position resting against your chest with your palms joined, the point can be pressed by the knuckles of the thumb into the breastbone.

It is important to make sure that your spine is straight, preferably supported by a straight-back chair. This allows you to breathe in fully and deeply. With your hands in prayer position, your eyes closed, and your thumbs applying pressure on your chest, press down on the pressure point for a couple of minutes whilst taking slow, deep breaths. Your head should remain upright, with your chin pointing slightly downwards.

Repeating this exercise daily, especially when you are beginning to feel stressed, anxious or overloaded, has been found to reduce levels of stress considerably. There is also evidence to show that it can be effective in helping those with depression, chronic fatigue, PTSD, hormonal imbalances, or during the recovery period following an injury or surgery.

6. Stomach Problems: Leg Three Miles

The Leg Three Miles (ST 36), or Zusanli by its Chinese name, is an acupressure point commonly used to improve digestive disorders including indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. It has also been shown to strengthen the body, fight fatigue and boost the immune system. It got its name for its use by ancient Chinese soldiers to enable them to go the extra three miles in their marches, even at the point of exhaustion, due to their increased strength and elimination of fatigue.

The Leg Three Miles Point lies on the stomach meridian, and modern studies have shown that the continued stimulation of ST 36 shows marked changes in the areas of the brain related to gastric function. It is often used to address poor digestion in children and adults.

  ST 36 located on the front of the leg, four fingers width below the kneecap, on the outside, in the indentation between the shinbone and the leg muscle. To find it, you can bend your leg and place your fingers below the knee cap. Begin with the index finger at the base of the knee cap, four fingers down where your little finger rests just outside your shin bone is where you will find this pressure point. As with all pressure points you will usually feel increased sensitivity at the correct point, which is how you know you are in the right place.

When you have found the correct spot – use a finger nail or thumb nail to apply moderate to deep pressure for a few seconds. Apply moderate to deep pressure on this point for a few seconds daily. You can press this point on both legs at the same time.

7. Menstrual Pain: Sacral Points

This is not one, but four separate, but equally important, points all located on the sacrum, which is at the base of your spine directly above your tailbone.

The sacral points lie on the bladder meridian, and are called bladder (B)31,32,33,34. Targeting these points has been shown to be very effective for relaxing the uterus, and relieving menstrual cramps. Their positioning on the bladder meridian also means that, like the commanding middle point, they can also be effective at reducing sciatica and lower back pain. Their activation can help release Qi in the bladder meridian.

To find the sacral points, you need to feel for the center of the sacrum. This is at the base of your spine directly above your tailbone. To do this, you can lie on your back with your hands under the base of your spine. If you apply light pressure either side, you will feel little dips – these are the holes in the sacrum and the pressure points. Take your time and you should be able to feel four dips – to either side of the sacrum.

Apply firm pressure with one hand placed on top of the other to the sacrum points. You should concentrate on one side at a time – pressing both pressure points on the left or right to begin with. Slowly increase the pressure and add a small amount of movement, combined with periods of stillness. If you are performing acupressure on another person make sure that you ask them if the pressure is comfortable for them as you go along. To encourage the movement of energy, you can gently press down on the back of the legs when you have finished applying pressure.

Note: You should not use the sacral points during pregnancy.

8. Quit Smoking: Shen Men

There are many techniques and therapies that claim to help people to quit smoking – from hypnotherapy to laser therapy and beyond. Acupressure and acupuncture have been proven to be successful in ending various types of addiction, including smoking.

One of the main focus points when tackling addiction through acupressure is the Shen Men point, or in Chinese ‘Gate to Heaven’. It is a master point, which means it is This is located on the upper half of the ear, above the apex of the triangular fossa. It is especially effective when used alongside other pressure points.

The Shen Men point has been shown to be effective not only in quitting smoking but also in helping to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, inflammatory diseases and insomnia. When tackling addition, it is best to use acupressure as a complementary therapy alongside the substance abuse treatment plan recommended by a medical professional.

To activate the Shen Men point, place your index finger on the point, and your thumb behind the ear on the same point. Apply firm pressure and massage this point for several minutes. As with all acupressure techniques, breathing deeply whilst applying pressure will help your body relax and increase the benefit. You can also use a q-tip to apply direct pressure to the exact pressure point. Doing this several times a day can have a significant impact on tackling addictions including smoking. It is recommended to do this shortly before going to sleep for maximum relaxation.

For best results, you should use in conjunction with other points such as Broken sequence, sympathetic autonomic point and Tim Mee.

9. Insomnia and Stress: Heavenly Pillar

Stiff necks and eye strain are very common complaints in the modern day – with most of us spending hours looking down at our computers or phone screens.

The heavenly pillar acupressure points, or Tianzhu by their Chinese name, have been shown to be excellent for relieving eye strain and neck pain, as well as reducing stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and insomnia. It can also help with persistent skin problems such as acne.

Much upper neck pain is a result of the atlas (the first cervical vertebrae) being out of alignment or lacking movement – targeting the heavenly pillar helps to realign the vertebrae, and release trapped energy. Once again, the heavenly pillar pressure points lie on the bladder meridian – the longest meridian in the body with the most amount of points on its path. The bladder meridian is also a yang meridian which means it has to be paired with a ying meridian – the kidney meridian. Within the twelve meridians, there are two types of meridian a ying meridian and yang meridian which must always be paired.

The heavenly pillar points are a pair of pressure points located one finger-width below the base of the skull on each side. They can be found on the prominent neck muscles located half an inch out from the spine. Pressing these acupressure points for several minutes daily for several weeks can help relieve stress and tension, particularly in the back of the neck. As with any of the acupressure points – if you are performing them on another person – ensure that you are checking whether the level of pressure is comfortable. Pressure should always be gentle to firm but should never cause discomfort.

10. Improving Concentration: Bigger Rushing

Improving our concentration is something that many of us strive for in today’s fast paced world where it can seem like we have a million tasks to do at any one time. One particular pressure point has been found to help with concentration and memory.

Bigger Rushing (LV 3) is an acupressure point, which lies on the liver meridian. It is located on the top of the foot, where the bones of the big toe and the second toe meet. It is thought to be a good pressure point for improving concentration and memory by encouraging clarity and focus.

It also helps to relieve headaches, fight fatigue, soothe tired eyes, reduce hangovers, prevent allergies, and boost the immune system as it keeps the body’s energy flowing smoothly.

Press it gently but firmly with your finger tip for a couple of minutes, and then release. As with all acupressure techniques, take long, deep breaths as you are doing so to feel the maximum benefit.

Do this 2 or 3 times a day for several weeks to start seeing results. This can be particularly good to do in times where concentration is vital such as during exam periods or busy periods at work. By promoting clarity, it helps us to make decisions in a calm and rational way with a more focused approach.

General Warning: Acupressure is generally considered safe, however, there are some pressure points which may not be safe for some people i.e if you are pregnant, suffering from arthritis, heart disease, cancer or other chronic conditions. If you have an existing medical condition please consult a medical professional before receiving acupressure treatments. Avoid applying pressure to points on a full or empty stomach. Broken and healing skin should also be avoided.

The science behind acupressure has been disputed by Western medicine, with most practitioners attributing any benefit to the release of muscle tension, a release of endorphins, and improved circulation. However, various studies have found that as an alternative therapy it can be very beneficial for relieving specific aches and pains.

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