By Nell Leblanc
Nell is Ghost Flower's resident health educator. She has a B.S. in nutrition and is a massage instructor with a 20-year background in acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Please Note: Acupressure should not be practiced during pregnancy and by those with high blood pressure, unless advised by a physician or licensed acupuncturist.
What is Acupressure?
You’ve probably heard about acupressure by now. Maybe you’ve heard that certain points on the body, when pressed upon, can yield relief from a headache or lessen sinus pressure. You may have even heard that certain points can actually stimulate your organs. But you probably have no idea where these mysterious points lie, nor how to actually activate them. So let’s get to the point.
Acupressure is the application of pressure to specific areas or points on your body’s surface. These points are located along pathways of interconnected tissue that allow for the flow of energy.
This energy (or “qi” as its known in Chinese medicine) brings vital support and nourishment to your body. When qi becomes stagnant or blocked due to stress, that stuck energy doesn’t flow where it needs to go. Acupressure can help alleviate these energy blockages and return your body to a state of balance.
To help get your qi flowing, Ghost Flower has put together a routine you can do yourself 2-3 times per day. An optimal time to practice is right before going to sleep, as acupressure can be very relaxing, but you can practice at any time.
Acupressure can be done anywhere, but ideally you should practice in a calm, comfortable space. You can also apply pressure on the go, while in a meeting or sitting at your desk.
You’ve got all the tools you need: fingers, thumbs, fists, elbows and even the heel of your foot can make a great tool for activating your acupressure points. Points that are difficult to reach can be accessed using a tennis ball or a roller.
Acupressure does not need to be painful to be effective. Use the mantra “hurts so good,” pressing until you feel the intensity and energy of the point, but release the point if it feels to painful.
Press and hold each point with steady pressure for 30-60 seconds. This steady pressure is a great way to melt away any knots or blockages. You can use a timer if it’s helpful.
Use your breath to help place your attention on the point you are pressing. Engaging in slow, deep breathing while practicing acupressure and focusing on each point while pressing will promote energy flow and relieve stress.
Choose as many points as you like to focus on during each practice. Ghost Flower has many “recipes” on our website, and you can try the two transformative points outlined below.
Acupressure's Two Most Transformative Points
The following two points are knowns as the “four gates” in Chinese medicine. If you only do two points every day for the rest of your life, these are excellent choices. They are the most important points for your general health.
Large Intestine-4 (LI-4) “Hegu”or “Adjoining Valley”
This point is great for all health issues, including pain, stress, the immune system, headaches, colds, skin, and digestion. On your hand, find the web or “valley” nestled between your thumb and index finger. Pinch this point or push in toward the bone with your opposite hand. Do not press this point during pregnancy.
Liver-3 (LV-3) “Taichong” or “Great Rushing”
It supports the liver by boosting its energy, helping you to flush toxins. It also boosts the immune system, alleviates stress, headaches, blurry eyes, muscle twitches, frustration and anger. On your foot, find the groove between the first and second toes. Pinch this point with your thumb and index finger. Alternately, sit in a chair and use the heel of your opposite foot to press the point when your foot is flat on the ground. This is another point that is not advised during pregnancy.
Feel the Flow
After this short practice, take a moment to feel into your body. Is your energy flowing more freely? Do you feel more relaxed and at ease? Enjoy these new sensations, knowing that you can gain great benefits any time with your newly established acupressure practice.