The practice of using acupressure points for medical reasons evolved over 5000 years ago. It was discovered, almost by accident. Pressure on certain areas, brought relief for different health problems. It has been discovered that the body has physical points that are sensitive to bio-electrical impulses and when pressure is applied to these points, the impulses are activated. In China this energy source is called ‘chi’. In Japan it is called ‘ki.’ Western scientists have also made use of these points with the use of TENS units that apply electrical stimulus to the electrical system where needed.
Acupressure to a specific point stops the pain signals from being sent to the brain by way of the spinal cord. The dissolving of tensions helps the body to function in a more balanced manner. The immune system is not depleted and the body resists illnesses better. This tension seems to concentrate in the area of the acupressure points. The muscle contracts due to the release of lactic acid. When a specific point is pressed the fibers of the muscle relaxes; blood is able to flow more freely, toxins are released, increased circulation brings more oxygen to that area.
How to apply pressure:
Pressure is applied using thumbs, fingers, palms or even the knuckles; firm pressure is applied in a steady, motionless manner. For relaxing or relieving pain the pressure is held from one to several minutes at a time. When energy is required, apply pressure for up to five seconds. Some points will feel pain when the pressure is applied, but there is not a standard response one should expect. The pressure applied should be a “good hurt”, pleasant but not outright pain.
Important points to be aware of:
There are some conditions and areas where care must be used. Pregnant women must not use certain points. Do not work on injured areas, like a burn or infected area. Medical attention is needed there. The lymph areas must be treated lightly, as they are very sensitive.
Acupressure points for stress:
Some specific points for releasing stress and tension, taken from the book by Michael Reed Gach called Acupressure’s Potent Points are listed below. Use the attached diagram to this article to help find the locations.
• Gates of Consciousness (GB 20): It is below the base of the skull, in the hollow between the two large vertical neck muscles. 2-3 inches apart, It is for release of frustration, and irritation, plus much more.
• Heavenly Pillar (B 10): It is located one finger width below the base of the skull and 1/2 inch out from the spine on both sides. This point is to release stress, eyestrain, stiff neck and more.
• Shoulder Well (GB 21): This is not to be used by pregnant women. It is found on the highest point of the shoulder muscle midway between the outer tip of the shoulder and the spine. Used for relief of frustration, shoulder tension, nervousness
• Heavenly Rejuvenation (TW 15): This is located on the shoulders mid-way between the base of the neck and the outside of the shoulder, 1/2 inch below the shoulder. Pressure here can relieve tension, still necks, and is good for resistance to colds and flu.
• Third Eye (GV 24.5): The point located directly between your eyebrows; in the indentation where the forehead meets the nose. This is especially for spiritual and emotional imbalances.
• Letting Go (Lu 1): Use four fingers width from the armpit and move inward on finger width. Here you can release chest pressure, emotional tension.
• Sea of Tranquility (CV 17): Feel the center; three thumb widths up from the base of the breastbone (sternum). Relief from nervousness, anxiety, insomnia
• Center of Power (CV 12): Find relief from frustration, emotional stress, indigestion and more. Do not use heavy pressure if experiencing a serious illness. Hold this point for two minutes or less and it is best to do on a basically empty stomach.
The acupressure points listed above is just a small portion of many acupressure points that are useful for a multitude of physical and emotional benefits. As with all medicine, alternative and traditional, results are not instantaneous and at times must be used with care. If you are a skeptic, when approaching the use of acupressure, realize that your state of mind will have a definite influence on the results. It is a practice that has been around, as stated, for over 5000 years and it took awhile, but it is now accepted by Traditional Western medicine as having true beneficial results. It is especially helpful for those individuals who are unable to take the prescriptions most doctors give their patients.
Gach , Michael Reed. (1990) Acupressure’s Potent Points, a Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments. Bantam New Age Books