How to Relieve Pain Using Pressure Points

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Acupressure is a traditional Chinese therapy which is used to relieve pain by applying pressure to certain parts of the body, and it is often used alongside more conventional medical treatment. The idea behind acupressure is that by applying pressure to various pressure points, you can balance the energy in your body to improve your health.[1] Although you should still see your doctor for serious health problems, you can try acupressure at home by studying these pressure points and the techniques used to stimulate them!

Familiarizing Yourself with the TechniqueDownload Article

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    Study the body’s meridians to understand the flow of energy. Acupressure is based on the idea that your body’s energy, known as chi, flows along certain pathways in the body, called meridians, and that stimulating pressure points along these meridians will balance your chi.[2]
    • There are 12 primary meridians running throughout the body — 6 in the arms, and 6 in the legs. To learn more about these, visit
    • Although there is no physiological proof that these meridians exist, they seem to follow the paths of nerves throughout the body. For example, the lung meridian, often referred to as L, connects the lungs and intestines to nerves in the wrist (acupressure point L7) and the back of the hand (acupressure point L14).[3]
    • The stomach median, referred to as S, starts in the brain and runs down into the foot, and contains acupressure points S36 and S37, which are just below the knee.
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    Find a quiet, relaxing place to sit or lie down. Since acupressure works by balancing the body’s energy, these techniques work best when you are completely relaxed. If you are performing acupressure on someone else, have them lie down and let them relax completely before you begin.[4]
    • You may want to play soft music or diffuse scents like lavender to help create a relaxing environment.
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    Choose the acupressure point linked to the pain you want to relieve. There are hundreds of different acupressure points, and each one is linked to a particular part of the body. Research the different acupressure points and find the ones which most closely match the symptoms you are experiencing.
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    Use your fingertips to apply pressure to the chosen point for 30 seconds. Press down firmly for about 30 seconds, moving your fingers in a circular or up-and-down motion.[6]
    • Acupressurists sometimes use their palms, knuckles, elbows, or even their feet to apply pressure to their clients.
    • Acupressure techniques may include firm pressure, kneading, brisk rubbing, or tapping on the pressure points.[7]
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    Repeat the technique as often as you like. Acupressure is considered extremely safe, and there is no limit to the number of times per day that you can practice these techniques.[8]
    • If you find that acupressure relieves a headache, for instance, but that it returns after a few minutes, just apply more pressure whenever the headache returns until it’s gone completely.

Targeting Specific Pressure PointsDownload Article

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    Pinch your shoulder muscle to relieve stress and neck pain. This acupressure point is known as GB21, or Jian Jing. Locate the area about halfway between your rotator cuff and your spine, then use your thumb and middle finger to firmly pinch this muscle for about 30 seconds.[9]
    • This method is also thought to relieve headaches, toothaches, and facial pain.
    • Jian Jing is said to induce labor, so use this technique with caution if you are pregnant.
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    Relieve headaches by pressing where your neck muscles join your skull. To find this spot, feel for the bone behind your ear, then follow the groove backwards to where your neck muscles attach to your skull. This is acupressure point GB20, also known as Feng Chi. Use your thumbs to press gently yet firmly.[10]
    • You can rotate your thumbs slightly or rock them in an up-and-down motion to increase the effect.
    • Other conditions affected by Feng Chi include eye blurriness, fatigue, migraines, and cold or flu symptoms.
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    Ease nausea by pressing between the tendons on your inner forearm. Hold your arm out with the palm facing up, then measure about 3 finger widths toward your elbow, starting at your wrist. This is acupressure point P6 or Nei Guan. Press down firmly between the 2 tendons and massage the area.[11]
    • Nei Guan is often used to relieve motion sickness and upset stomach.
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    Relieve leg and hip pain by pressing inwards at the back of the knee. The soft spot at the back of the knee is thought to help with hip impairment, muscular atrophy, and abdominal pain. Press firmly inwards at the center of your knee.[12]
    • If you can’t reach this spot yourself, you may want to ask someone to help you with this.
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    Massage between your thumb and index finger to relieve stress. This pressure point is located on the highest spot of the muscle where the thumb and index finger meet. Massage the area with a deep, firm pressure.[13]
    • This acupressure point is known as He Gu, or LI4. It is one of the most commonly used acupressure points, and can also be used to treat facial pain, toothache, and neck pain.
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    Massage between your fourth and fifth fingers to relieve neck tension. This acupressure point is known as Zhong Zhu or Triple Energizer 3 (TE3). Find the groove between your fourth and fifth fingers, or your ring finger and your pinky finger, then massage this spot firmly for up to 30 seconds.[14]
    • TE3 is often used to treat temporal headaches, shoulder and neck tension, and upper back pain.
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    Find the depression between your first and second toes to ease anxiety. Start in the groove where your big toe and second toe are joined, then slide your finger towards you. The acupressure point LV3, or Tai Chong, is located just before you reach the next bone. Massage this area firmly.[15]
    • Tai Chong is also said to relieve menstrual cramps, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and insomnia.
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    Ease menstrual cramps by finding acupressure point SP6 on your leg. This point is on the inside of your leg about 4 finger widths above your ankle. Using your thumb, apply deep pressure just behind your tibia and massage the area for 30 seconds.[16]
    • SP6, or San Yin Jiao, is also used to relieve urological and pelvic disorders, as well as insomnia.
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    Massage the muscle on your outer shin bone to ease fatigue. This spot, known as ST36 or Zu San Li, can be found by measuring 4 finger widths down from the bottom of your knee cap along the outside of your shin bone. Using a downward pressure, massage the area.[17]
    • To check if you're in the right place, move your foot up and down. You should feel a muscle move in and out as your foot moves.
    • Zu San Li is also used to treat nausea and vomiting and to promote longevity.



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