Acupuncture has roots in Chinese medicine and has been practiced for some 2,000 years. I’m sure you’ve heard of it from friends, athletes, the news, TV, everywhere! In fact, many of you have likely tried some form of acupuncture in your life, having tiny needles placed strategically in your back or elsewhere that are causing pain in hopes of getting some pain relief. Millions of people have raved about the results: pain reduction, stress reduction, and so much more. Acupressure, on the other hand, has a similar foundation as acupuncture but requires no needles. In fact, acupressure requires no tools other than your hands. You can use your fingers, hands, and elbows to target acupressure spots on yourself (or someone else) to relieve pain and tight spots on the body. WebMD has some great resources and more information on acupressure. Below we discuss the top 10 acupressure points to relieve body and aches.
First, we are going to discuss how to find your pressure points and they really are. There are hundreds of acupressure points on the human body, all the way from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, and the reaction from pressure on these points will vary from person to person. These points are mainly in crooks or indents of the body and occur along the human body’s meridians. Meridians are a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) concept and are pathways in the body where energy, or “qi“, flows. There are 20 total meridians in the human body, broken up generally by major organ’s pathways. Each of the top 10 acupressure points to relieve body pains and aches discussed below lie on one of these meridians.
1. Acupoint: LI-4 (Other names: Large Intestine – 4/He Gu/Joining Valley)
This acupressure point connects to the large intestine meridian and can cause the large intestine to contract. Targeting this point can aid bowel movements and relax other muscles associated with the large intestine. It can even help reduce pain in jaw and neck pains.
The Junction Valley point is located in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Using your thumb on your other hand, apply pressure to this soft and fleshy skin to engage the LI-4. This point is one of the five acupuncture points to avoid during pregnancy, as it can induce labor.
For Menstrual Cramps:
2. Acupoint: SP-6 (Other Names: Spleen-6/San Yin Jiao/Three Yin Intersection)
The SP-6 acupressure point connects to the spleen meridian and can benefit women suffering from menstrual cramps. This point is located on the inside of your leg, about 4 fingers up from the ankle. Make sure you are not pressing on your shin; the point is just off of the shin. Like the LI-4 point, this acupressure point could induce labor, and its use should be avoided on pregnant women. However, for a woman in active labor, this pressure point can help alleviate pain and quicken the delivery process.
For Stress and Anxiety:
3. Acupoint: Liv-3 (Other Names: Liver-3/Tai Chong/Supreme Rush)
This acupressure point is connected to the Liver meridian and can provide many benefits to the body. It can reduce stress, anxiety, back pain, blood pressure, and more. Some research has even shown decreasing irritability and anger in people who massage this pressure point.
The Supreme Rush point is on the top of your foot, between your big toe and second toe, and about 2 to 3 fingers down.
4. Acupoint: GB-20 (Other Names: Gallbladder-20/Feng Chi/Wind Pool)
If you suffer from stiffness in the neck, headaches, or other pain around your neck and head, this pressure point could help you. This acupressure point is along the gall bladder meridian. It is crucial to our list of the top 10 acupressure points to relieve body pains and aches, as many people suffer from headaches and can benefit from this technique.
To find the two GB-20 points, place your thumbs at the point where your skull meets your neck (this is often close to or along your hairline). Slide your thumbs outward until they are roughly in the middle between the center of your neck and your ears. Hold the area and apply reasonably firm pressure. The best and most effective way to engage this acupressure point is with deep pressure.
Besides GB-20, GB 41 acupuncture point is another excellent acupoint for headaches and neck pains.
For a Fever:
5. Acupoint: LI-11 (Other Names: Large Intestine-11/Qu Chi/Pool at the Crook)
Engaging in this acupressure point is how to cure fever with acupressure. Like the Junction Valley, this acupressure point is known for releasing heat from the body and can be found on the arm along the large intestine meridian. Simply bend your arm; the crease on the outside of your arm is where this point lies. People experiencing hot flashes and even sunburns can experience heat release and relief by putting firm pressure on this acupressure point.
Releasing heat from the body is a very popular TCM topic, and we have a particular article on how to reduce body heat by acupressure.
For Calf Pain:
6. Acupoint: Bl-57 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-57/Cheng Shan/Support the Mountain):
If you suffer from calf pain or occasional calf cramping, you can significantly benefit from acupressure for calf muscle pain. Specifically, this Mountain Support point is along the bladder meridian. The point is on the back of the leg and in the calf’s center, about halfway up the calf.
Applying pressure here can help with calf pain and reduce pain in the foot, back, and Achilles tendon. Many runners, bikers, and other athletes who strain their calf muscles have experienced incredible results from engaging this acupressure point. It is one of the nine acupuncture points for hip pain.
For a Toothache:
7. Acupoint: SI-18 (Other Names: Small Intestine-18/Quan Liao/Cheek Bone Crevice)
You may be asking, “Is this possible? Is there a pressure point for a toothache?” The answer is yes. The Cheek Bone Crevice point falls along the small intestine meridian and is a unique point on the list of the top 10 acupressure points to relieve body pains and aches. Engaging in this acupressure point is a great way to relieve pain caused by a toothache and help other dental problems. Headaches, congestion, and facial swelling can be alleviated using the Cheek Bone Crevice point.
The SI-18 point is directly under the lowest part of your cheekbone or called the “cheekbone hole”. You want to make sure not to apply too much pressure, as this area on the face is relatively sensitive and delicate.
For a Toothache and Jaw Pain:
8. Acupoint: ST-6 (Other Names: Stomach-6/Jia Che/Jaw Bone)
Like the Cheek Bone Crevice point, the Jaw Bone acupressure point can relieve pain caused by a toothache and alleviate jaw pain from conditions like TMJ. The best way to find this point located along the stomach meridian is to clench your jaw. The muscle that tenses, also called your masseter, is where you want to apply pressure and gently massage.
This can alleviate pain in the jaw, reduce swelling around the face, and help people who have difficulty fully opening their jaw. Engaging this acupressure point consistently can result in long-term improvements of all these conditions. If you are experiencing neck pains due to teeth grinding, you should try acupuncture for bruxism with this acupoint.
9. Acupoint: SP-10 (Other Names: Spleen-10/Xue Hai/Sea of Blood)
On the spleen meridian, just like the Three Yin Intersection point, this acupressure point can clear skin conditions such as eczema and other uneven skin conditions. Some have even reported this point can help with irregular menstrual cycles in women. The spleen is responsible for filtering blood, and this specific point along the spleen meridian will break up blood to allow for these improvements.
To find this acupressure point, bend and flex your knee and press 3-4 finger lengths above the knee and slightly to the inside. Together with the LV 13 acupuncture point, it can also resolve lots of digestive problems.
For Stress and Nausea:
10. Acupoint: ST-36 (Other Names: Stomach-36/Zu San Li/Leg Three Miles)
The last, but certainly not least, point on this list of the top 10 acupressure points to relieve body pains and aches is along the stomach meridian. There have been many reported benefits to engaging the Leg Three Miles, like relieving stress, reducing nausea, and reducing fatigue. Some studies have even shown an improvement in asthma and brain functions when consistently massaging this acupressure point. It is also one of the acupressure points for gas and bloating issues.
The ST-36 point is about four fingers down from your knee and slightly to the outside. To make sure you are at the right point, move your foot around, and you should feel a muscle move around as well.