Acupressure is a technique that has been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It has now made its way around the world as a healing technique to relieve pain, among other conditions. It is similar to acupuncture; it uses the same points where an acupuncture needle would be inserted, but instead, gentle pressure is applied to the point via the fingers or thumb for about 1 minute.
Acupressure is a massage-like technique derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine that uses the same points as acupuncture.
It is performed by applying gentle pressure to the point for 30 seconds to one minute.
While limited studies have been performed, it can relieve pain and calm the nervous system.
The acupressure points run along the same meridian ley lines of the body as acupuncture, however, their existence cannot be proven by science. Meridians are essential "energy channel lines" for qi (pronounced chee) to flow through freely. When energy gets blocked along a particular meridian, then pain or disease can settle in. Acupressure gently helps the energy to flow again by pressing on the points where the energy may be stuck.
Acupressure is a great method for people who may not be able to receive acupuncture for medical reasons or don't like the needles that are used in acupuncture. Some scientific studies have proven that acupressure can relieve pain in muscular tissue, allow for relaxation, promote blood circulation, and soothe the nervous system.
Meridians – what are they?
There are 10 meridian pathways in the body that correlate with different organs or functions and two additional meridians. TCM is based on yin/yang theory so each meridian is either yin or yang. Yin/yang theory is a TCM principle of creating balance or harmony in the body.
Yin is the slow, passive energy while yang is more active. So for each yin-organ-based meridian there is a corresponding yang-based meridian which balances it out. Knowing the functions of the meridians is essential for anyone who practices acupressure.
How meridians work
There are 6 lower body meridians, which are more yin in nature and comprised more of the leg areas, and 6 upper body meridians which are yang and utilize the chest, arms and head.
Here's how they work:
- Liver and gallbladder meridians. The liver meridian runs inside the leg and governs emotions such as happiness or anger, representing the yin aspect. The gall bladder meridian runs outside the leg and governs patience and decision-making, and can cause headaches when out of balance. It is yang.
- Kidney and urinary bladder (UB) meridians. The kidney meridian again runs along the inner thigh and governs emotions such as anxiety or difficulty with urinary organs. When balanced, it allows creativity to flow. It is yin in nature. The UB meridian runs along the backside of the body and can also contribute to urinary problems. It is yang.
- Spleen and stomach meridians. The spleen meridian again runs through the inner thigh and governs our confidence. It is yin. The stomach meridian runs along the front side of the body and governs digestive disorders. It is yang.
- Heart and small intestine meridians. The heart meridian runs along the chest and arms. It governs respiratory disorders as well as emotions. It is yin. The small intestine meridian runs along the arm into the neck. It governs neck and throat issues as well as grief and sadness. It is yang.
- Lung and large intestine meridians. The lung meridian starts in the abdomen and goes up through the lungs and out into the arms. Imbalances can manifest as depression, and it is yin in nature. The large intestine meridian runs along the arms down into the large intestine. It governs our self-worth and is yang in nature.
- Pericardium and san jiao meridians. The pericardium is a small sac around the heart and is not treated as an organ in Western medicine. It starts in the center of the chest and moves down the arms. Its imbalance can result in poor circulation. It is yin in nature. The san jiao, also known as the triple burner, is yang in nature and contains three pathways. It allows the transportation of fluids through the body.
- Governor vessel and conception vessel. The governor vessel runs in a straight line along the backside of the body and is yang in nature. The conception vessel runs along the front body in a straight line and is yin in nature.
What's great about acupressure is that you can practice it on yourself, although certification courses do exist, and it is included in many TCM and acupuncture training. Remember when practicing on yourself, to hold gentle pressure for 30 seconds to 1 minute. If there's pain or dizziness, stop. Consult your doctor before trying anything new.
Useful acupressure points to know
Acupressure can be used to obtain benefits for your overall health.
Acupressure for sleep
There are specific points for those who suffer from insomnia. Here are some helpful acupressure points:
- KD1. Located in the center of the bottom of the metatarsal area of the foot.
- SP6. Located 3 fingers distance above the inner ankle bone on the inside of the leg.
- PC6. Located 3 fingers distance from the wrist on the inside of the arm.
- HT7. Located on the pinky finger aspect of the wrist.
- Yin Tang. Located in between your eyebrows.
Acupressure for stress
Stress and anxiety are common in everyday life. Here are some easy points you can administer yourself:
- Yin Tang. Located in between your eyebrows.
- Conception vessel 17. Located in the center of the chest in line with the nipples on the sternum.
- GV20. Located in the center of the head.
Acupressure for asthma
Acupressure can also help reduce respiratory conditions like asthma, although limited research has been done. Here are some acupressure points to treat asthma:
- LU1. Located on the outer sides of the chest right before where the arm bone connects.
- Ding Chuan. Located on the back of the neck at the 7th cervical vertebra.
Acupressure is a safe and easy method for not only self-treatment of pain and diseases; it can also be used in conjunction with other therapies and Western medicine. It is not uncommon in the 21st century to find many people blending Eastern and Western medical treatments to achieve their optimal well-being or manage a health condition.
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