prolonged finger pressure directly on the point; gradual, steady,
penetrating pressure for approximately three minutes is ideal. Each
point will feel somewhat different when you press it; some points
feel tense, while others are often sore or ache when pressed. How
much pressure to apply to any point depends on how fit you are.
A general guideline to follow is that the pressure should be firm
enough so that it "hurts good" - in other words, something between
pleasant, firm pressure and outright pain.
The more developed the
muscles are, the more pressure you should apply If you feel extreme
(or increasing) sensitivity or pain, gradually decrease the pressure
until you find a balance between pain and pleasure. Acupressure
is not meant to increase your tolerance of pain, so do not think
of it as a test of endurance. Do not continue to press a point that
is excruciatingly painful. Usually, however, if you firmly hold
the point long enough (up to 2 minutes using the middle finger with
your index and ring fingers on either side as support), the pain
Note that sometimes
when you hold a point, you'll feel pain in another part of your
body This phenomenon is called referred pain and indicates that
those areas are related. You should press points in these related
areas as well to release blockages.
The middle finger
is the longest and strongest of your fingers and is best suited
for applying self-acupressure. The thumb is strong, too, but often
lacks sensitivity If you find that your hand is generally weak
or hurt s when you apply finger pressure, you can use the knuckles
or your fist or other tools, such as an avocado pit, a golf ball,
or a pencil eraser.
may be tempted to massage or rub the entire area, it is best just
to hold the point steadily with direct finger pressure. The rule
of thumb is to apply slow, firm pressure on the point at a 90
degree angle from the surface of the skin. If you are pulling
the skin, then the angle of pressure is incorrect. Consciously
and gradually direct the pressure into the center of the part
of the body you are working on. It's important to apply and release
finger pressure gradually because this allows the tissues time
to respond, promoting healing. The better your concentration as
you move your fingers slowly into and out of the point, the more
effective the treatment will be.
acupressure sessions using different degrees of pressure, you
will begin to feel a pulse at the point. This pulsation is a good
sign - it means that circulation has increased. Pay attention
to the type of pulse you feel. If it's very faint or throbbing,
hold the point longer until the pulse balances.
If your hand
gets tired, slowly withdraw pressure from the point, gently shake
out your hand, and take a few deep breaths. When you're ready,
go back to the point and gradually apply pressure until you reach
the depth where it hurts good. Again, press directly on painful
site (which often moves, so follow and stay with it) until you
feel a clear, regular pulse or until the pain diminishes. Then
slowly decrease the finger pressure, ending with about twenty
seconds of light touch.
When you have
located the point and your fingers are comfortably positioned
right on the spot gradually lean your weight toward the point
to apply the pressure. If you're pressing a point on your foot,
for instance, bend your leg and apply pressure by slowly leaning
forward . Using the weight of your upper body (and not just your
hands) enables you to apply firm pressure without strain. Direct
the pressure perpendicularly to the surface of the skin as you
take several long, slow, deep breaths. Hold for a few minutes
until you feel a regular pulse or until the soreness at the point
decreases. Then gradually release the pressure, finishing with
a soothing touch.
Each body - and
each area of the body - requires a different amount of pressure.
If it hurts a great deal when you apply pressure on a point, then
use light touch instead of pressure. The calves, the face, and
genital areas are sensitive. The back, buttocks, and shoulders,
especially if the musculature is developed, usually need deeper,
firmer pressure. Because certain areas of the body, such as the
back and shoulders, are hard to reach, I will recommend using
Acu-Yoga postures, which involve leaning against the
floor to apply the proper amount of pressure to the points.
To achieve the
full benefit of self-acupressure, you should choose a comfortable,
private environment that lends itself to deep relaxation. You
can use acupressure at work, however, if you can take a ten-minute
break. Choose whatever position you find most comfortable - either
sitting or lying down. As you press points in different areas,
feel free to reposition your body so that your muscles can relax
completely. (See "Guidance for Deep Relaxation," at the beginning
of Part 11.)
should wear comfortable clothing. Tight collars, belts, pants,
or shoes can obstruct circulation. I recommend wearing natural
fibers that breathe, such as cotton or wool blends. Also, it's
a good idea to keep your fingernails trimmed fairly short to prevent
any discomfort or injury to the skin.
acupressure right before a big meal or on a full stomach. Wait
until at least an hour after eating a light meal and even longer
after eating a heavy meal. Practicing a complete acupressure routine
when your stomach is full can inhibit the flow of blood and may
cause nausea. However, simply pressing one or two points to relieve
indigestion or hiccups is perfectly safe.
Avoid iced drinks (especially
during the winter months), because extreme cold generally weakens
your system and can counteract the benefits of acupressure. A
cup of hot herbal tea would be good after an acupressure session
along with a period of deep relaxation.
For optimal results,
you should perform the acupressure routines daily, whether you
are using acupressure to maintain your health or to help relieve
an ailment. If you are using acupressure for the latter reason,
continue using these same points even after you've obtained relief.
This can prevent recurrence. If you cannot practice every day,
treating yourself to acupressure two or three times a week can
still be effective.
Limit your self
acupressure sessions to an hour at the most. When you begin practicing
acupressure, you may find that you are most comfortable holding
a point for two to three minutes. You may find that you can gradually
over two to three months - work up to holding points longer, but
do not hold any one point longer than ten minutes. And do not
work any single area of the body, such as the abdominal area or
the face, for longer that 15 minutes. The effects of acupressure
can be quite strong. If you work too long, too much energy is
released and complications, such as nausea and headaches, can
For further self-help information, see Michael Reed Gach's
Acu-Yoga (Tokyo: Japan Publications, 1981), 121-247