How to try acupressure at home

Nourish your life with this guide for self-massage of acupressure points

When it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the more popular components is acupuncture. But have you heard of acupressure?

Dr. Christine Grisham, a TCM practitioner at the George Wellbeing Center shares her expertise on acupressure, and how you can get started with your own practice:

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is self-massage of energy lines and points on the surface of the skin (acupoints). Unlike acupuncture, no needles are involved.

Common acupoints

There are lots of acupoints on your body—each located on a channel of energy. Western scientific research has identified that most acupoints have higher electrical activity than other places on the body. Stimulating these acupoints with self-massage (acupressure) or the insertion of thin needles (acupuncture) can provide a wide variety of benefits, like reducing pain, increasing energy, promoting relaxation and assisting with healing.

Here are some easy-to-find acupoints:

  • Immediately under the collar bone, on the front of the chest—can help improve breathing and calm the mind
  • On the underside of the wrist (just beneath the palm), below the pinky finger—can help calm the mind
  • On the top of the foot, between the first and second toes, about an inch towards your ankle—can help improve mood
  • On the top of the hand, between the thumb and first finger—can help alleviate headaches and toothaches
  • Behind the ear lobe, about an inch back toward the base of the skull—can help promote relaxation and sleeping

To get started with acupressure

  • Find a comfortable seat and settle in, breathing deeply several times. Try to do this in a quiet room, free from distractions. You can also play relaxing music.
  • Think about your intention—are you hoping to relax enough to go to sleep? Hoping to relax from a stressful event? Other?
  • Gently press down on the acupoint for a few seconds, then gently rotate your thumb on the point.
  • Repeat this on each side of the body at the same spot for 30-60 seconds.
  • The points may often feel tender when you press on them. That’s OK, just be gentle, and often the tenderness will soon disappear.
  • Be sure to listen to your own body’s needs. Experiment with your technique, pressure, and how long and how often you press the points. There’s no “wrong” way to do acupressure.
  • Do this whenever you’re stressed, up to several times a day. If you have any skin wounds, it’s best to avoid acupressure until you are healed.