Right now we’re turning to pressure to release some pressure! Used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure is a great DIY technique to reduce stress, relieve pain + promote all-around wellness from your own home (which is great ‘cuz that’s what we’re all working with now). Just like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates points across the body that correspond to various ailments or conditions. There are hundreds of pressure points, or acupoints, on the body – located where blood, nerve, lymph + connective tissue meet. Stimulating an acupoint, either via acupuncture or acupressure, sends a message to the brain that alters brain chemistry and tells the body to react to achieve a desired result.
Currently acupressure is definitely having a moment as a safe + totally natural way for people to recreate the healing benefits of their acu sessions at home. Interested in experiencing acupressure for yourself? Follow along for a DIY acupressure sesh!
Acupressure tips + tricks:
Using your thumb, gradually apply increasing pressure on a point until you find the sweet spot – aka until it’s just enough pressure to feel some resistance without discomfort or pain. Then hold constant pressure and make a circular motion with your thumb, gently massaging the point. Take 10 deep breaths and then release the point.
Let’s try it!
Kidney 1 – when you want to feel grounded and calm:
Located on the midline of the sole of the foot, 1/3 the way down from your toes and 2/3 the way up from your heel right where the arch of the foot begins. Fun Fact: This is the only acupoint located on the sole of the foot.
Cross your foot over your opposite knee and use your thumb to apply a firm but comfortable amount of pressure. Push down and move your thumb in a circular direction. Take 10 deep breaths while you are applying pressure, then switch and do the other foot.
Pericardium 6 – soothes anxiety + promotes deeper sleep:
This point’s famous for motion sickness, but it’s also great for calming anxiety and helping you sleep. Located on the inside of the forearm between the two ropey tendons a couple inches up from the wrist.
Use your thumb to press into the point and breathe. Apply firm but comfortable pressure. Move your thumb in circular motion and take 10 deep breaths while you are applying pressure, then switch and do the other wrist.
Taiyang – relieves headaches:
Who knew rubbing your temples for a headache is part of Chinese medicine? The temples are acupressure/acupuncture points collectively known as Taiyang and have been used to calm the mind for thousands of years. These points can also be used for tension headaches, a common symptom of a high-stress lifestyle.
Place the pads of your index and middle fingers on your temples. Rub the point in a circular direction, slowly breathing in and out for 10 deep breaths. Then rest your fingers in the center of your temples and hold the point for two more deep breaths. Slowly release.
Spleen 6: – helps balance hormones + reduce stress
This point balances hormone levels to calm the mind, so it’s great for stress, anxiety + insomnia. I find myself using this point on 90% of my clients.
From a seated position, place your ankle on top of the opposite knee. Or lie down and bend one knee and then rest your other ankle on that knee. Spleen 6 is located about a palm’s distance (or about 3 inches) above the inner ankle (see map). Rub the area between the shin bone and the back of the calf taking 10 long, slow, deep breaths, then switch to the other side. Do this daily.
Large Intestine 4: – Pain relief for headaches and other body pain
Commonly known as a headache point, Large Intestine 4 has so many uses and the more tight + sore it is, the more beneficial it can be. Large Intestine 4 is good for pain anywhere in the upper body, including the neck, shoulders, jaw + head. So rub away! It’s also good for getting things moving, like your emotions and your digestion, so activate this point for stress or constipation.
Gently pinch the web between the index finger and thumb of your left hand with your right thumb and right index finger. Rotate the right thumb in a circular motion applying just enough pressure to feel resistance without pain. As the resistance releases, gradually apply more pressure. Breath slow and deep as you do this and then switch sides. Keep rubbing until you feel a release in the area.
WTHN has a collection of acupressure products including ear seeds to help you heal from home.