Acupressure shares the same stable as acupuncture and other forms of Chinese traditional healing therapies. Jon Sandifer explains that, unlike acupuncture, it is relatively easy to learn and you can practise it on yourselfThroughout time, as human beings, we have brought comfort to others through touch. We also constantly and instinctively rub and press parts of our bodies to relieve aches and pains. So the beauty and simplicity of acupressure is that it brings a level of healing back within our own grasp.
It works on the same basis as acupuncture, on the principle that the body is charged by ch’i energy. This is channelled through 14 individual meridians which are located on the surface of the body. Half of them rise up the inside of the body and the other half descend down the back towards the feet. There are some 370 acupoints located along these meridians which connect energetically with the function of our internal organs.
Sometimes ch’i can get blocked at these points, causing stagnation and lethargy. At other times, the ch’i can be racing through the meridians and dispersing through the points, leaving the ch’i unsettled and confused. Unlike acupuncture, you do not have to have a complete training or background in oriental medicine to use it on yourself, as it is used primarily on a symptomatic level. This means that next time you have a headache, instead of reaching for the paracetamol, why not try the pressure point that we indicate in the section below instead?
In common with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage, ch’i strengthening exercises (ch’i kung and tai ch’i) and traditional dietary therapy, acupressure regards symptoms as some form of ch’i imbalance. Whether this is caused by our diet, lifestyle, recreation, physical activity or immediate environment, the secret lies in being able to change the underlying cause of the problem rather than to cure it symptomatically. All of the systems I have just mentioned use yin and yang and the Five Elements as a model for understanding the dynamics of ch’i energy relative to our own condition.
Breathing Is The Secret
Before trying out any of these first aid points, which are relatively easy to learn and to practise, bear in mind these guidelines:
- Do not apply acupressure to an area where there is broken or infected skin
- Avoid applying any pressure to parts of the body that may have varicose veins
- Avoid using acupressure if you have a high fever.
Apart from the correct location of the acupressure points, which is essential to a beneficial treatment, the secret lies in your breathing technique. Remember always to breathe out as you apply pressure. The out breath releases tension, pain and stale ch’i. It is curious how so many of us react to acute pain, caused by a knock, a slight burn, or a cut, for example, by drawing in our breath. This holds in the pain and makes it more difficult to release the tension.
As you apply pressure to the point, do not jab at it. Press on the point slowly and go down to a level at which you feel a certain resistance which may even border on being slightly painful. Hold the point for a second or two and then release the pressure slowly as you breathe in. My advice is to repeat the process five or six times on the desired point.
Remember that meridians are mirrored on the other side of the body so that it is essential that you move to the same point on the other hand, leg or arm to balance the treatment.
Techniques For You To Try
Large Intestine Number 4 In Chinese this point is called ‘The Great Eliminator’ and it is an excellent point for toning the digestive system, both in cases of constipation and on a daily basis to strengthen the digestion. Most headaches have an underlying cause in the digestive system and this point can be an excellent symptomatic relief for headaches, especially those at the front of the head.
The point is located midway between the thumb and forefinger, in the fleshy part very close to where the bones meet, high up in the valley on top of the hand. Begin by bringing your opposite hand across to this area, breathe in and then as you breathe out, slowly begin to apply pressure until you feel resistance or pain. Hold the point for the rest of the out breath and as you breathe in, begin to release the pressure for the rest of the in breath. Repeat this five times and then move to the other hand.
Heart Governor Number 6 This is excellent for calming the mind or alleviating suffering from any shock. To locate this point, look on the inside of your wrist and bring your opposite thumb across until you are midway along the wrist. Using your thumb, gently trace the hollow on the inside of your wrist, above the joint with the hand formed by the two bones in your wrist.
When you have found the hollow, breathe in and as you breathe out apply pressure until you feel resistance or any mild pain. Hold the pressure for the complete out breath, keep the pressure on for two more seconds and then slowly release the pressure as you breathe in. Repeat the process five more times and then move on to the other wrist.
Kidney Number 1 In Chinese, this point is called ‘Bubbling Spring’. Our kidneys form the foundation of our vitality and this is an often-neglected point on the soles of our feet, especially as we incarcerate our feet in shoes most of the time. Almost all acupressure points are on the surface, however this one is much deeper and takes more work to locate.
The point is found on the sole of your foot, directly below the two hard pads of skin that are located below the big toe and the four other toes. Where these two pads join in a valley, not far below the second toe, ‘bubbling spring’ emerges. As this point is so deep, you need to press it more firmly and repeat the process at least 10 times. Initially you may find the point unresponsive and then it is not unusual to find a sensation similar to a mild electric shock! Repeat the process at least 10 times and avoid doing this straight before bed as it could wake you up and cause insomnia.
How I Have Used Acupressure
I have used acupressure in a variety of first aid situations in my own life and found it to be practical and beneficial. I have been present at and supported the birth of all my six children using the system. A combination of using the correct points and the appropriate breathing routine meant that no analgesics were used in any of the births. Not only can acupressure be useful for headaches but also for insomnia, mental fatigue, panic attacks, shock, toothache, travel sickness, earache, constipation and coughs. It is very easy to use and can often leave you feeling proud of your own success as you have not had to resort to pills or potions which may have their own detrimental side effects.