Acupressure is an ancient form of healing that applies pressure, usually from fingers, along specific trigger points on the body. It's similar to acupuncture, which uses tiny needles instead of pressure.

Proponents of acupressure use it for a wide variety of healing and wellness purposes, including stress and pain relief, colds and flu, insomnia, depression, dizziness, digestive disorders, nausea, morning sickness, and immune system enhancement.

Some acupressure points address specific conditions, while others deliver broad benefits. For example, a limited study found that patients with lower back pain experienced more sustained benefits for six months with acupressure as compared to traditional physical therapy.

According to, tension accumulates around common pressure points, causing muscle fibers to contract, which can cause pain. Applying steady, firm pressure releases the tension and allows muscle fibers to elongate and relax. It also releases toxins and promotes blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the area.

You can seek acupressure from a trained professional, who may administer it alone or integrate it with other complementary healthcare practices. However, one of the beauties of acupressure is that you can use it on yourself—anytime, anywhere.

For nonprofessionals, there are two hub, or high-concentration, points you can easily access that will yield great results.

1. L4 (Large Intestine 4). Also referred to as the Hoku point, L4 is widely used for pain relief, especially for headaches and joint or muscle pain. L4 is on the back of your hand in the webbing where your thumb and index finger meet. Put your opposite thumb on the point and the opposite index finger on the palm side of the hand and press firmly.

Practitioners also use L4 for chills and fever, runny nose, headaches, stiff upper back and neck, sweating (too much or too little), sore throat, and dizziness.

There are no negative side effects with acupressure; however, pregnant women should not apply pressure to L4.

2. Liver 3. Located on the line between the big toe and second toe, Liver 3 is about three finger widths from the edge of your foot in a depression about the size of your fingertip. Use L3 for menstrual cramps, headaches, vision problems, low back pain, and insomnia.

Gradually increase and release pressure on the point to allow your tissues time to respond. Hold firm pressure for about three minutes, but no longer than 10 minutes on any one point or more than 15 minutes in one area of the body. Avoid acupressure before a big meal or on an empty stomach.

Liesa Harte, MD, reviewed this article.



Gandey, Allison. "Randomized controlled trial of acupressure shows benefit." Medscape Medical News. Web. 17 February 2006. "Pressure Point Therapy." Web. "Learn How to Use the Hoku Point for Pain Relief." Web.

Kecskes, Alex A. "Using Acupressure to Relieve Pain and Anxiety." Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Web.

Calabro, Sara. "'Why Are You Doing That Point?' Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4." Web.