Inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism against infection or injury. The symptoms of inflammation—pain, heat, redness, and swelling—are the result of increased blood flow as the body mounts a protective response, rushing fluid, proteins, and white blood cells to the affected area.
Since acupressure usually increases blood circulation, you may be wondering: how does acupressure help inflammation of the feet? The sad truth is that swelling or inflammation is not always the result of a healthy increase in blood flow but exactly the opposite—a decrease in blood circulation and an unhealthy accumulation of fluid in the lower legs or ankles.
If you’re on your feet all day at work, it’s natural to experience some swelling or inflammation of the feet. This swelling, also known as edema, occurs when fluid is retained in the feet and ankles, causing pain or discomfort. To soothe your swollen ankles or release the ache in your heels at the end of a long day, you can use acupressure massage to help with inflammation of the feet.
What Can Cause Inflammation In The Feet?
Acute, or short-lasting, inflammation of the feet is usually no great cause for concern. Standing or sitting in the same position encourages fluid to collect in the lower reaches of the body, causing swelling in the feet and ankles. Hot weather causes the blood vessels to dilate, sometimes leaking fluid into the surrounding tissues. Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body, leading the skin, tissues, and vital organs to try to retain as much water as possible, causing swelling, inflammation, or puffiness in the skin. While such swelling will naturally subside in time, you can use the acupuncture points for feet inflammation to ease your pain and speed up your recovery.
Chronic or long-lasting inflammation of the feet may intimate more serious medical conditions. If the immune system is unable to fight off an infection, the redness and swelling will persist as the infection spreads. If your kidneys are not functioning properly, there may be excess sodium in your blood. When this happens, the body retains more water, leading to chronic pain and swelling in the legs and feet. Inflammation of the feet may be a warning sign for kidney disease, deep vein thrombosis, or cirrhosis of the liver. If you have persistent pain and swelling, and if massaging the acupressure points for feet inflammation provides no relief, you should seek advice from your health care provider.
How Does Acupressure Help Inflammation Of The Feet?
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been aware of the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain and inflammation for hundreds if not thousands of years. Up until quite recently, however, the actions by which acupressure regulates inflammation remained uninvestigated by Western medicine.
In a 2003 investigation into the anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture, researchers concluded that acupuncture may prove an effective treatment for a number of inflammatory diseases and conditions, including “tennis elbow” and arthritis. The researchers hypothesized that acupuncture’s advantages over conventional therapies in the treatment of inflammatory conditions may be due to the production of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which, in low concentrations, exerts potent anti-inflammatory actions.
A recent study conducted by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School and published in Nature appeared to support these findings. The researchers not only demonstrated that electrical stimulation at the ST-36 acupoint could drive an anti-inflammatory response in mice but also described the underlying neuroanatomy by which acupuncture activates the specific signaling pathway. The team also suggested that acupuncture sessions might prove useful in treating the “cytokine storm”—the rapid release of the small proteins stimulating an over-exuberant immune response—for which drug treatments are currently unavailable.
What Are The Acupressure Points For Feet Inflammation?
Acupoint: KI-3 (Other Names: Kidney-3/Tai Xi/Supreme Stream)
The Tai Xi is the first of two kidney meridian points you can use to help relieve your aching and swollen feet. You can find it in the depression between the inner ankle and the Achilles tendon.
Stimulating the KI-3 acupressure point helps to strengthen the legs and improve circulation around the feet, acting as a natural pain reliever for joint pain and arthritis.
Warm your feet in a relaxing foot bath, then grasp the ankle between your thumb and forefinger. Stimulate the acupoint by applying firm pressure with your thumb.
Acupoint: ST-41 (Other Names: Stomach-41/Jie Xi/Stream Divide)
Although the Jie Xi belongs to the stomach meridian, it is located on the transverse crease of the ankle, making it one of the best acupressure points for feet inflammation. If you flex your foot towards the body, the crease should become visible.
To stimulate the Jie Xi, grasp the ankle with both hands, then press with the index and middle fingers in the middle of this crease. Breathe deeply as your apply gentle pressure, then relax. Repeat this several times, slowly.
Both Jie Xi and Tai Xi are recognized as excellent acupressure points for ankle pain.
Acupoint: Bl-61 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-61/Pu Can/Subservient Visitor)
When your feet are sore from exercising or standing for a long time, you’ll want to stimulate the Pu Can. Though it belongs to the bladder meridian, this is one of the primary acupressure points for foot pain.
Bl-61 is especially effective for relieving the pain caused by plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that runs along the base of the feet and connects the heel to the toes. This condition is common in runners and causes intense pain in the heels.
You can find the acupressure point midway between your outer ankle and your heel. Apply firm pressure here to alleviate your pain.
Acupoint: KD-5 (Other Names: Kidney-5/Shui Quan/Water Spring)
KD-5 is another useful acupressure point for foot pain which, like Bl-61, is effective in alleviating plantar fasciitis pain. Stimulation here regulates the kidneys and promotes the discharge of the accumulated waste in the legs, reducing swelling.
The Water Spring is located opposite the Bl-61 acupoint, midway between the heel and the inner ankle. Press three times a day for around ten seconds each time.
Acupoint: ST-36 (Other Names: Stomach-36/Zu San Li/Leg Three Miles)
The St-36 acupoint is located around four finger widths from the base of the kneecap. To find it, push your thumb against the side of your leg, pointing up, then rest your fingers against the outer edge of your knee. The acupoint should be located beneath your pinky finger.
Stimulation of the Zu San Li helps to promote the flow of blood towards the toes, providing pain relief and reducing swelling in the feet. Since it belongs to the stomach meridian, ST-36 is also considered one of the best acupressure points for lower abdominal pain.
Press the acupoint with the thumb fifteen to twenty times while breathing slowly. Repeat this cycle for five to ten minutes.
Acupoint: GB-34 (Other Names: Gallbladder-34/Yang Ling Quan/Yang Mound Spring)
The last of the acupressure points for feet inflammation everyone should know, GB-34, known as the Yang Ling Quan, is located in the indentation beneath the bone jutting out at the outer edge of the knee.
Both ST-36 and GB-34 are regarded as important acupressure points for peripheral neuropathy, a condition resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves of the brain that send signals down the spinal cord. Beginning with numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, this eventually progresses to muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and paralysis.
Use GB-34 to treat stiffness, cramps, and muscle pain, relieve numbness and tingling in the feet and lower legs, and reduce swelling or inflammation in the knees.