When you bump your elbow or stub your toe, your first instinct is to touch the spot that hurts, isn’t it? This instinct, to soothe pain with touch, forms the basis of acupressure.
A 5,000-year-old form of traditional Chinese healing, acupressure attempts to balance life energy (qi) by applying pressure to certain points along the body. These acupoints are located along channels of energy in the body, known as meridians. We usually experience pain when these meridians are blocked or out of balance.
Acupressure unblocks these meridians by applying pressure to these acupoints, which triggers the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins reduce pain and trigger feelings of pleasure. Once your body is no longer in pain, your muscles can relax and so your blood flow improves, allowing your body to come back into balance. Acupressure is a safe practice for beginners, and if you don’t get the exact point, you will still be okay. However, pregnant women and cancer patients shouldn’t attempt to do acupressure without supervision.
There are hundreds of acupoints on the human body, however, these are a few basic ones that you can start with.
1. Headaches: Joining the Valley (L 14)
This point is commonly used to cure headaches, but it can also treat toothaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, arthritis, hangovers and constipation.
Location: Between the thumb and forefinger, at the highest point of the muscle, where the two fingers are joined.
How to press it: Press and massage the point on one hand for a few minutes, then do the same to the other hand. Repeat as required.
2. Nausea and vomiting: Pericardium (P6)
This point helps prevent nausea and vomiting that is caused by a number of factors, including pregnancy, motion-sickness and chemotherapy. It also helps treat upset stomachs, headaches, chest pain and carpel tunnel syndrome.
Location: This point is located between the two large tendons on the inside of your wrist, about 3 finger widths below the base of your palm.
How to press it: Press the point with your index and middle fingers for half a minute, then do the same on your other hand. Repeat several times, till the nausea passes.
3. Fatigue and eye strain: Third Eye (GV24.5)
This point relieves fatigue, eye strain, headaches, insomnia, sinus problems and congestion. It also improves memory, calms you down and improves your spiritual and emotional health.
Location: This point is located where the bridge of your nose meets the middle of your eyebrows.
How to press it: Use your middle finger to press this point for a few seconds, for up to a minute. Try to do this several times a week.
4. Depression: Sea of Tranquillity (CV 17)
Also known as Conception Vessel 17 (CV 17), this point helps with emotional and mental health problems like depression, anxiety, nervousness and hysteria. It also helps improve immunity.
Location: This point is located in a dent in your breastbone, about 3 – 4 finger widths above the base of the breastbone. It is pretty much in the centre of your chest, between your nipples.
How to press it: Sit on a chair with your spine absolutely erect. Join your hands as though you are praying, with your fingers pointing upward. Press the knuckles of your thumb into this point, moving your hands up and down for a few minutes while taking deep breaths.
5. Digestive problems: Leg Three Miles (ST 36)
This point is used to relieve all sorts of digestive problems like gas, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating and indigestion. It also boosts immunity, prevents fatigue and improves your overall wellness.
Location: Bend your leg and wrap your fingers around your leg, just below your kneecap. The point is located where your little finger rests, not in the middle of your leg, but on the outside of your shin bone. On your right leg, this point will be a little to the right of the centre of your leg and on your left leg this point will be a little to the left of the centre of your leg.
How to press it: Apply moderate pressure to this point for a few seconds every day. You can press the point on both legs at the same time.
6. Knee pain: Commanding Middle (B 54)
This point helps treat problems related to arthritis and sciatica, like knee pain, back pain, hip pain and stiffness.
Location: This point is located behind your knee, right in the centre of the kneecap area.
How to press it: Press it gently for about a minute, then switch to the other leg. Repeat every day.
7. Menstrual pain: Sacral Points
Pressing these points relaxes the uterus and relieves menstrual cramps. It also reduces lower back pain and sciatica pain.
Location: These points are located on the sacrum, which is at the base of the spine, right above the tailbone. When you press down on it, you should feel your sacrum bones, just below your upper buttocks.
How to press them: Lie down and place both hands on the area, one on top of the other, applying firm pressure on the area. Do this for a few minutes.
8. Insomnia and stress: Heavenly Pillar (B 10)
These points help with problems like stress, anxiety, exhaustion, burnout, headaches, heaviness in the head, neck pain and stiffness, insomnia and eye strain.
Location: These points are located 1 finger width below the base of the skull, on the neck muscles that jut out on either side of your spine.
How to press them: Press these points for a couple minutes every day, for several weeks.