Acupressure is a great way to take the benefits of acupuncture into your own home.
One of my most firmly held beliefs is that I am doing a great job only if and when I teach my coaching and bodywork clients and my clinic patients not to need me. This philosophy is largely derived from my previous career. As a professor, I wanted my students to learn and to be able to do on their own. That was the mark of having succeeded with my students—did I actually teach them? Could they use what they learned from me, and could they thoughtfully build upon what they learned? Old habits run deep and this one probably won’t ever leave me: I love to teach and I want to foster independent success. As a practicing AOBTA-CP Asian bodywork therapist, a health coach, and a TCM intern [On edit: If you’re reading this after summer of 2018–I am now a licensed acupuncturist!], I am always excited to talk with people about how they can take control of their own health. Mindfulness practices, dietary changes, and healthy exercise routines are not the only way to take charge of your wellness. Have you ever thought of trying acupressure at home and as part of your self-care protocol?
Acupressure has a lengthy history within the trajectory of traditional Chinese medicine healing arts. Its most basic applications are easy to learn and do. Applying gentle and steady force to an acupressure point is akin to the type of healing work that one might experience in an Asian bodywork therapy session or even in an acupuncture treatment room. In fact, if you are needle sensitive or afraid of needles, your acupuncturist might just give you an acupressure treatment instead of inserting needles. As a student intern, I have done just that to great effect with patients who were needle-nervous and happened to be feeling extra anxious on the day of the appointment. On more than one occasion, I have given wonderful treatments that consisted of tui na and acupressure only, and the patients loved how they felt afterward and were quite happy—no needles needed at all!
Knowing where to find the acupressure points and manipulating them with an effective amount of tension will help you to reap maximum benefits from a home self-care regimen. Of course, you will want to consult your medical care provider if you have a serious ailment or any unresolved issues or questions (and this blog post is no substitute for traditional medical care nor is it intended to diagnose or suggest cures, of course). That said, here are three acupressure points that are my favorites, and I will suggest others in subsequent posts:
KD-1: First, look on the bottom of your foot and find the space in between the second and third bones (start from the big toe and move outward). Then plantar flex your foot as if you are standing on tiptoe and find the hollow where your finger will land if you move it in between the bones towards the direction of your heel. That’s Kidney-1, a point that is traditionally used to soothe the spirit and help feel a sense of being grounded and peaceful. Press gently and breathe calmly and feel the sense of peace and ease that is a result of acupressure…it’s a wonderful point!
PC-6: First look on the inside of your wrist. About two inches up from the wrist crease in between the two big tendons you can easily palpate is Pericardium 6, another great point to help calm and soothe the spirit. It is also useful for arm and elbow pain, among many other things. Press and rub with gentle yet firm intent while breathing mindfully. Again, this is a great one for self-soothing.
Bitong: Since many of my clients (and of course my clinic patients) are in Austin, we all love to learn about ways to get through allergy season. Bitong, a special point that does not correspond with an organ system like the other two, is at the highest point of the naso-labial groove right next to the nose. Just run your finger up the side of your nostril to the highest point and it’s in the depression just below the nasal bone. Press on it or rub gently when you are congested and see how powerful an acupressure point it is—these actions should get things moving along nicely!
Anyone who comes for an Asian bodywork therapy appointment can ask me for suggestions for more acupressure points that calm and soothe or ones for allergies or headaches—I am definitely glad to teach these for home use. As a Chinese healing art that is not just for clinic but also for the home, acupressure can be as much a part of the self-care toolkit as meditation or any other mindfulness practice.
Try it and see!
Paula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator. She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX offices. Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.
In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.
Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.
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Note: Material on this web site site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or ailment. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Material on this web site does not purport to identify syndrome patterns.