Long, Long Ago…
The earliest known literature on acupuncture and acupressure originated from the Jin Dynasty of the 3rd century A.D. The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was published by clinician Huang-fu Mi and provided the building block for modern day Eastern medicine.
In fact, the most common Eastern medicinal practices we are familiar with in the United States since the mid-1900’s including herbal medicine, shiatsu massage, tai chi, and more originated from ancient Chinese practices that aim to treat the mind, body, and spirit as one entity. Acupressure is one of these ancient practices that uses touch to direct and redirect energy flow through the body for improved mental, emotional, and spiritual status.
What is Acupressure?
Acupuncture is the practice of applying thin needles in various pressure points of the body to stimulate and unblock energy flow, commonly referred to as “chi” in Chinese medicine. Acupressure, on the other hand, is a non-invasive form of acupuncture in which the fingers are used to stimulate energy flow through the body at certain pressure points or “acupoints” that lie close to the surface of the skin.
Acupressure is a Chinese medicinal practice incorporated by both acupuncturists and massage therapists as a way to alleviate common ailments and conditions. Most massage schools in the United States (including Avenue Five Institute!) incorporate a variety of acupressure techniques in their program. In fact, the shiatsu massage and reflexology both incorporate acupoints and the principles of acupressure into their practice as a way to release tension and improve energy flow through the body.
How Can You Use Acupressure?
While improved energy flow through the body sounds pleasant and appealing, acupressure is used as a therapeutic treatment for specific bodily ailments, aches, and illnesses.
Acupressure is most commonly used in alternative medicine to alleviate the following:
- General aches and pains in the body
- Immune system stimulation
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Arthritis and inflammation
- Menstrual cramps
- Stress reduction
Self-Treatment with Acupressure
Acupressure benefits are not isolated to acupuncturists, practitioners of Chinese medicine, and massage therapists. You, too, can learn acupressure techniques that you can use to treat minor aches, ailments, and pains in the body. Or, you can practice acupressure techniques with your partner, your child, or anyone with the need for improved Chi.
There are a few important keywords and concepts to comprehend before you delve into the practice of self-treatment with acupressure. Refer to our list, below, for a brief definition or description of major acupressure terminology.
Acupoint – The acupoint is a pressure point used in the acupressure practice.
Chi – Chi is the basic life energy present in every body.
Meridian – A meridian is a pathway through which Chi flows through the body.
Tonifying – Tonifying is the practice of strengthening weak Chi. This is achieved by pressing a finger into an acupoint with a firm pressure and holding that pressure for 2 or more minutes.
Dispersing – Dispersing is the practice of unblocking or stimulating blocked Chi. This is achieved by applying pressure with a finger and moving it in a circular motion for 2 or more minutes.
Calming – Calming the Chi is achieved by applying pressure with the palm of the hand and stroking the area for 2 or more minutes.
Pressure Points for Anxiety Relief
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) are generally treated with a prescription combination of therapy, medication, and alternative medicine practices such as massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and more.
Acupressure is an additional tool to add to your anxiety toolbox, though it should never be used to replace professional aid and prescription medication. There are many acupoints in the body that are closely linked to anxiety, and when attended to, can help to alleviate blocked chi or hindered energy flow.
The acupoints described below can be self-treated with the fingers or the thumb and require very little effort, though astute concentration is recommended for maximum benefit. Incorporating acupressure into your daily life, particularly if you struggle with the effects of anxiety and stress-related conditions, can provide minor relief.
The Hall of Impression
The Hall of Impression acupoint is located directly between the eyebrows, where the 3rd eye is often illustrated.
Close your eyes and apply pressure to this acupoint with either your index finger or thumb and take slow deep breaths while applying pressure in a circular motion for 5 minutes or longer.
Acupressure on the Hall of Impression acupoint is intended to relieve anxiety and stress.
The Heavenly Gate
The Heavenly Gate acupoint is located at the top tip of your ear, just above the triangular hollow in the pocket of cartilage.
Apply pressure to this acupoint with your index finger or middle finger in circular motions for 2 or more minutes.
Acupressure on the Heavenly Gate acupoint is intended to relieve anxiety, stress, and improve insomnia.
The Union Valley
The Union Valley acupoint is located in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. If you are pregnant or believe you may be pregnant, do not perform acupressure on this acupoint.
Apply pressure to this acupoint with both the index finger and thumb of your other hand, close your eyes, and massage this acupoint for 30 seconds.
Acupressure on the Union Valley acupoint is intended to relieve stress, headaches, and neck pain.
The Great Surge
The Great Surge acupoint is located 2-3 thumb widths from the space between your big toe and your second toe on your foot in the hollow space just below the bone.
Measure 2-3 thumb widths from the space between your big toe and second toe and apply pressure to this acupoint massaging the area for 30 seconds.
Acupressure on the Great Surge acupoint is intended to alleviate anxiety and stress, reduce pain, improve insomnia, and help with menstrual cramps.
The Inner Frontier Gate Point
The Inner Frontier Gate Point is located 3 finger widths above the wrist on your arm, palm up in between the tendons.
Measure 3 finger widths above the wrist and using your thumb or index finger, apply pressure in a circular motion to this acupoint for 30 seconds.
Acupressure on the Inner Frontier Gate acupoint is intended to alleviate anxiety and stress, reduce nausea, and eliminate pain. Most anti-nausea bracelets either for morning sickness or motion sickness feature a form of acupressure to the Inner Frontier Gate acupoint with a notch or a bead.
Give the Gift of Balanced Chi to Others
You attempted and succeeded in practicing acupressure on one of the anxiety acupoints in the body, and the results astounded you. (Us, too!) Could you imagine incorporating this practice into a larger, more robust understanding of alternative medicine in the form of massage therapy? Could you picture yourself giving the gift of a balanced Chi to your loved ones, and people who are struggling through a difficult time in their life as a result of anxiety, chronic pain, stress, and more?
Avenue Five Institute offers an NACCAS accredited 750 hour massage therapy program providing both online and hands-on training in the field of massage therapy. Our unique, hybrid learning style allows you the flexibility necessary to pursue your passions while maintaining your daily responsibilities.
Check out our enrollment page to find class start dates that work with your schedule.