What's the first thing you do when you have a headache? You reach up and rub your head, right?
Our natural instinct to touch and soothe pain is deeply ingrained. In fact, it's the essence of a 5,000-year-old Chinese practice known as acupressure.
Unlike acupuncture, which uses needles, acupressure requires only your fingertips and a little knowledge.
Whether you're battling chronic neck pain or trying to improve digestion, there's an acupressure point that can help.
Here's a quick guide to seven of the most common pressure points in your body.
1. Crook of the Elbow
You can use this point to reduce pain in the shoulder, elbow, or arm. It's also excellent for regulating digestion.
Hold your arm in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your palm facing up. Place your thumb on the outer end of your elbow crease and press firmly.
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2. Thumb Pad
This point is used to treat headaches, neck pain, and muscle tension.
Use your thumb and forefinger of one hand to squeeze the fleshy webbing between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand.
3. Above the Knee
These points are believed to help cleanse the body and provide nourishment for the skin.
Sit in a chair and find the bulge in your thigh muscle (about two fingers' width from the top outer edge of your knee). Apply firm pressure with your thumb or knuckle.
4. Outer Shin
This spot relieves tired legs and revitalizes the entire body.
You'll find it a hands' width below the knee and a fingers' width to the outside of your shinbone. You should easily be able to feel the muscle (tibialis anterior) when you flex your foot.
5. Top of the Foot
Feeling frazzled? Harness the power of the most stress-relieving point in the human body.
To find it, place your finger on the top of your foot, on the webbing between your big toe and second toe. Move your finger up about half an inch until you feel a slight indentation.
6. Occipital Bone
If you suffer from migraines, neck pain, or frequent colds, this spot may become your new best friend.
Place your thumbs behind your skull at the base of your hairline, halfway between the ear and the spine. Apply firm pressure to those points, where the neck muscles join up and attach to the skull.
7. Low Back
Those with chronic low back pain or kidney problems may find relief using this point. The point is hard to reach with your fingers, so the best thing to do is lie on the floor on your back.
Place two tennis balls on either side of your spine, just above the crest of your sacrum. The balls should be about an inch and a half from your spine on either side.
Final Thoughts on Acupressure
No one can explain exactly how or why acupressure works.
Still, it's hard to argue against techniques that have brought people pain relief for over 5,000 years.
Are you seeking relief from chronic pain? Check out our blog for more helpful tips on improving your health and wellbeing.