Patients often ask us for ideas on what they can do for themselves between acupuncture visits. Among the suggestions we make, self-treatment acupressure is a favorite.
Acupressure is a form of healing that has been used for thousands of years around the world. While it is part of many traditional medicines, it is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and is based on the same principals as acupuncture. Our bodies are activated by a vital energy we call Qi, which travels along pathways that connect with all of our organs & muscles. On the surface of our skin there are specific points which can be stimulated to regulate how this energy flows. This is how we restore and maintain vitality and health.
This part of TCM began with an idea that we all intuitively understand: A lot of the time if something hurts, be it a tight muscle or a headache, rubbing it can help it feel better. Over time and through experience we began to recognize the connections between different parts of the body. For example, we figured out that rubbing a particular point on your hand not only relieves tension there, but also helps elbow pain and headaches.
Acupressure is a great way for patients to sustain the benefits of their acupuncture treatments, and also helps them care for some of their day-to-day stress and aches & pains.
Does it hurt?
It really shouldn’t hurt. There may be some dull achiness during and after a treatment however it isn’t and endurance test of how much pressure can you take for how long. It should feel soothing and relaxing, so if you are doing it with a partner, remember to communicate about how it feels. The duration of treatments can vary, depending on the condition. Generally we recommend about 2 to 5 minutes for self treatments, though you can do it longer if it feels right.
What types of problems can acupressure relieve?
Acupressure can help to treat a broad range of conditions safely. It cant treat everything though and speaking with your licensed practitioner about your health concerns is always a good idea. Here are some of the things that acupressure can be used for:
Support healthy digestion
There is no age limit for acupressure. It is safe and can be used by people of all ages – in fact at the Yinova Center we often show new parents how to use it with their infants and it is a gentle therapy that can be used with the elderly. If you are pregnant, there are some points that should be avoided and it is best to ask your practitioner about what’s right for you.
Here are two points that we commonly show our patients to help them relax. They’re great for stress reduction and to help you drift to sleep.
Hall of Impression (Yin Tang) This point is really is relaxing and great for helping sleep. It is located right between your eyebrows. It is an area that many traditions consider the third eye and a spiritual center. We teach our Yinova moms to rub this point on their newborns because it is a powerful point for calming the mind. Because of its location, it is also great to sooth many kinds of headaches.
Inner Pass (Nei Guan) One of the most important points to help circulate energy through the body, and soothes the chest where a lot of people feel tension and anxiety that prevents sleep. Its also very well known for treating nausea from morning sickness, food poisoning, motion sickness, or any other cause. There are even bracelets that can you can buy at most pharmacies which have a plastic bead on the inside that presses the point.
This point is located 3 finger breadths above the inner crease of your wrist, right in the center, between the two big tendons.
Gentle, direct pressure here is all you need as it is a sensitive area.
For more information on acupressure points ask your practitioner or check out Michael Reed Gach’s book here.