If you’ve ever seen someone squeezing their hand, or a mother mysteriously squeezing her child’s foot, it may just very well be acupressure. Acupressure originated in Ancient China over two thousand years ago. People still use it to treat a whole host of physical ailments, from menstrual cramps to headaches to motion sickness and teething pain.
One theory states that acupressure, or applying pressure to certain points on the body, may promote the release of endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s pain-relieving hormone. But does it actually work?
It Works for Some People
Acupressure releases muscular tension by applying pressure at specific acupoints. This method, according to the practice, balances the flow of physiological energy. But all evidence that proves using pressure points works is based on traditional medicine and anecdotal evidence.
Because results are so subjective, we can’t say that pressure points work for everyone. But they certainly work for some. Now, there could be a few factors that negatively influence the efficacy of the practice:
- Severity of pain or medical issue
- Skill of the acupressure practitioner
- Your setting
If you’re at home pinching yourself at pressure points you read about online, you may not get the same results as a trained reflexologist would, for example. And if you’re stressed out in a place that doesn’t allow you to relax, it’ll be hard to stop thinking about the world and focus on the relief of acupressure.
Acupressure may, therefore, work for you, but not all the time. If we think about the practice like an ancient form of massage, however, we can at least say it feels good—even if it doesn’t relieve what we want it to.
What is a Pressure Point?
A pressure point, formally known as an acupoint, is a place on the body that you can press to stop tension or pain. You can technically apply pressure to anywhere on the body’s surface. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the entire body itself is a cluster of pressure points.
Finding Relief in Acupressure
Here are some common pressure points for relieving stress.
Three Mile Point
Located two-finger widths below your knee and four-finger widths towards the outside area of your leg. Use your finger to apply pressure for one minute to relieve fatigue, regulate energy flow, and improve concentration.
Apply pressure to the connecting tissue between your big toe and second toe to unblock energy.
On the inside of your foot, measure three finger widths down from the base of your big toe. This is where you’ll find the pressure point. Activating this pressure point can relieve worry and anxiety.
This pressure point is located in the connective tissue between your index finger and thumb. Apply pressure for three minutes using your thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Take deep breaths while you do this to relieve stress and tension.
This pressure point is located two-finger widths under the area where your arm and chest meet. Apply moderate pressure using the tip of your index finger. This acupressure point increases blood flow and helps balance unsettling emotions.
Another way to activate this point is to first interlock your fingers behind the head. Press the thumbs into the hollow spaces at the skull base. Massaging these pressure points may also help relieve neck pain.
Before you give up on pressure points, ask yourself what can make your experience better or sign up for a session with a pro. Always consult your doctor before you seek out acupressure if you have any conditions affecting joints or heart health.