Press to De-Stress: 7 Acupressure Cures for Aches and Pains
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Press to De-Stress: 7 Acupressure Cures for Aches and Pains

Use this self-acupressure guide to cure headaches, menstrual cramps, hangovers, and other aches and pains, as well as to relieve stress.
Pressure Point Therapy

Acupressure -- applying pressure to certain points on your body -- can help ease headaches, hangovers, menstrual cramps, and more. The theory behind it: We all have energy flowing through us called chi, and when chi gets blocked, symptoms result. When you gradually put pressure on key areas and hold, you unclog that energy and tension, alleviating discomfort. Acupressure can also trigger the release of endorphins, neurochemicals that help relieve pain, explains Michael Reed Gach, PhD, director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California.

How much force you use and how long you apply it depends on your level of discomfort, says Don Phillips, a licensed acupuncturist with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. If you're in a lot of pain, start with light pressure, then increase for maximum relief.

Press these points to help relieve seven common ailments.

1. Nausea

Press this: Two fingers' width above the inner wrist crease between the tendons. Apply pressure with two fingertips, recommends Juliette Aiyana, a licensed acupuncturist and director of Aiyana Acupuncture in New York City.

2. Lower Back Pain

Press this: The center of the back of the knee crease.

3. Insomnia

Press this: The spot between your eyebrows, called "yintang." This promotes relaxation, which can help you fall asleep, explains Phillips.

4. Sinus Pain

Press this: The crease that's in your cheek next to the flare of the nostril.

5. Shoulder Tension

Press this: Curve fingers on both hands and place them over the tops of your shoulders. On both sides, press the points directly above the top of your shoulder blade with your index, middle, and ring fingers.

6. Menstrual Cramps

Press this: The spot a few finger widths from the midline of your sacrum, located between your lumbar spine and tailbone. This will relax the uterus.

7. Hangover

Press this: Looking at the back of your hand, place your other thumb at the webbing between your thumb and index finger with your fingertips on the palm directly behind. Firmly press into the webbing for two minutes; this can relieve headaches due to overindulging.

BONUS TIP: The Wake-Up Call

Fight Fatigue: Lightly tap the middle of the top of your head, then massage the areas at the back of your neck near the base of your skull; between the thumb and index finger; one hand's width below the knee; and in the middle of your foot.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2006.