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Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2009 07:04:57 -0400
|July 5, 2009|
Relief at Your Fingertips
Michael Reed Gach, PhD
ou've probably heard of acupuncture, but there's something similar that you can do yourself -- no needles involved -- called acupressure. Acupressure can alleviate many physical, mental and emotional problems in only a few minutes -- and it is free.
Acupressure involves stimulating acupoints on the body with fingertips or knuckles and is based on the principles of acupuncture, an ancient healing technique used by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The acupoints often have ancient descriptive names, such as "Joining the Valley" and "Mind Clearing." Acupressure increases blood flow to the treated area and triggers the release of endorphins, pain-relieving brain chemicals.
Here are the acupressure techniques for various health problems. Unless otherwise noted, daily acupressure sessions, three times a day, are the best way to relieve a temporary or chronic problem.
ARTHRITIS PAINJoining the Valley is a truly amazing acupoint because it can relieve arthritis pain anywhere in the body.
Location: In the webbing between the thumb and index finger, at the highest spot of the muscle when the thumb and index finger are brought close together.
What to do: Rhythmically squeeze the acupoint. As you're squeezing, place the side of your hand that is closest to the little finger on your thigh or a tabletop. Apply pressure in the webbing as you press downward. This allows you to angle more deeply into the point, increasing the benefits.
Also good for: Headache, toothache, hangover, hay fever symptoms, constipation.
Caution: This point is forbidden for pregnant women because its stimulation can cause premature contraction in the uterus.
MEMORY PROBLEMSThe Mind Clearing acupoints are for improving recall instantly -- for example, when you have forgotten a name or gone to the supermarket without your shopping list. Location: One finger width (about one-half inch) directly above the center of each eyebrow.
What to do: Gently place your right thumb above your right eyebrow and your middle fingertip above the eyebrow on the left side. Hold very gently. You should feel a slight dip or indentation in the bone structure -- the acupoints on both sides are in the dip. Press the indentation very lightly, hold and breathe deeply. After a minute or two, you'll experience more mental clarity and sharper memory.
LOWER BACK PAINTo help prevent and relieve lower back pain, practice this exercise for one minute three times a day. You can do it standing or sitting.
Location: Place the backs of your hands against your lower back, about one inch outside the spine.
What to do: Briskly rub your hands up and down -- about three inches up and six inches down -- using the friction to create heat in your lower back. If you're doing the technique correctly, you'll need to breathe deeply to sustain the vigorous rubbing, and you'll break out in a slight sweat.
Also good for: Food cravings, especially sugar cravings, chronic fatigue, sexual problems, chills, phobias and fibromyalgia symptoms.
EMOTIONAL UPSETThe Inner Gate acupoint can reduce emotional upset -- such as anxiety, depression and irritability -- in two to three minutes.
Location: On the inner side of the forearm, three finger widths up from the center of the wrist crease, in between two thick tendons.
What to do: Place your thumb on the point and your fingers directly behind the outside of the forearm between the two bones. Squeeze in slowly and firmly, hold for two to three minutes, breathing deeply. Repeat on the other arm for the same amount of time.
Also good for: Carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, indigestion and nausea.
COLDS AND FLUIf you think you're about to get a cold or flu, stimulating the Heavenly Rejuvenation acupoint may prevent infection.
Location: On the shoulders, midway between the base of the neck and the outside of the shoulders, one-half inch below the top of the shoulders, just above the tip of the shoulder blades.
What to do: There are two ways to stimulate this point...
Curving your fingers, hook your right hand on your right shoulder and your left hand on your left shoulder. You also can use your fingers on your opposite shoulder, which may be easier. With your fingertips, firmly press the point and take three slow, deep breaths.
If you don't have the flexibility to perform the first technique... lie down on your back, on a firm mattress or carpeted floor, with your knees bent and feet on the floor as close to your buttocks as possible. Bring your hands above your head, and rest the backs of your hands on the floor beside or above your head. Inhale and lift up your pelvis, pressing your feet against the floor to assist the lift. The higher your pelvis, the more weight will be transferred onto your shoulders, stimulating the acupoint. Hold this posture for one minute, taking long, slow, deep breaths, with your eyes closed. Lower your pelvis, and rest for three minutes.
Also good for: Nervous tension, stiff neck, high fever, chills, shoulder aches and irritability.
INSOMNIAThe acupoints Calm Sleep and Joyful Sleep -- on the outer and inner ankles -- can help relieve insomnia. Use these acupressure points whenever you want to deeply relax and sleep better.
Location: Calm Sleep is in the first indentation below the outer anklebone. Joyful Sleep is directly below the inside of the anklebone, in a slight indentation.
What to do: Place your thumb on one side of your ankle and your fingers on the other, and press firmly. If you're on the right spot, it will be slightly sore. Hold for two minutes, breathing deeply. Repeat on the other ankle. Do this again if you still are having trouble sleeping or if you wake up.
HEADACHESThe acupoints Gates of Consciousness relieve a tension headache or migraine.
Location: Underneath the base of your skull to either side of your spine, about three to four inches apart, depending on the size of your head.
What to do: Using your fingers, thumbs or knuckles, press the points under the base of your skull. At the same time, slowly tilt your head back so that the angle of your head relaxes your neck muscles. Press forward (toward your throat), upward (underneath the base of your skull) and slightly inward, angling the pressure toward the center of your brain. Continue to apply pressure for two minutes, breathing.
Also good for: Neck pain, insomnia, high blood pressure.
Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Michael Reed Gach, PhD, founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California. He is author of self-healing instructional DVDs and CDs and many books, including Acupressure's Potent Points (Bantam), Acupressure for Lovers (Bantam), Arthritis Relief at Your Fingertips (Warner) and coauthor of Acupressure for Emotional Healing (Bantam). www.Acupressure.com.
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