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8 Pressure Points for Fast Relief

A hangover courtesy of too many tequila shots. Sinus pressure that feels like a semi just ran over your face. Monthly cramps that come like clockwork. Let's face it: aches and pains are inevitable. But there's an alternative to popping a few pills. Applying pressure to certain points on your body can often go a long way toward alleviating pain. Read on for eight fixes for some common complaints.

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A Humbling Hangover

When that fabulous girls' night out results in a horrible hangover, try pressing on the P6 acupressure point, says Dr. Mark Moyad, FITNESS advisory board member and Jenkins/Pokempner Director of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center. The point can be found three fingers down from the crease of the wrist on the palm side, and it is right in the middle between the tendons. "Applying pressure with the thumb from the other hand for several minutes and switching to the other side for several minutes, two to three times a day, can reduce nausea and that hangover feeling," he says.

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Sinus Soreness

When your allergies kick in and there's no Sudafed in sight to relieve your sinus pressure, it's a miserable feeling. Robert Klein, owner of Advanced Massage Therapies of Athens, Georgia, suggests alternating applying pressure along the bony ridges above and below the eyes, around the bridge of the nose, the crease around the side of the nostrils, around your temples, and around your forehead until you start to feel relief. "The area in the webbing between your thumb and finger is also good to hold for sinus pressure and headaches," he adds.

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Period Pain

Have cramps that just won't quit? Terri Sandusky, owner of Ballard Healing Arts in Seattle, says to find a point located three inches above your anklebones on the inside of the legs or behind the tibia. (It's best to hold the point on both legs, one at a time.) "This is the most amazing acupressure point for menstrual cramps -- it can stop them within seconds," she says. Hold the points for 30 seconds up to two minutes.

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Feet That Need Some TLC

If your feet ache like you've just run a marathon in three-inch stilettos, it could be an indicator that some other point of your body is in bad shape. Working on the feet through reflexology points can treat the body as a whole, Klein says. "Take a look at a foot reflexology chart to see which part of your body your sore foot points might refer to," he advises. But remember, your foot pain is not necessarily a reference to some other issue. "It can just be tight and achy due to overuse, injury, or worn shoes," he says. Hold each point that hurts for four seconds, release, and treat again. Bonus: Working all the points on the feet will stimulate all the energy in your body, Klein says.

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The Headache from Hell

When the constant pounding gets to be too much, apply pressure to the GB 20 point on the back of your head to the left and right side of the middle part of the neck, Dr. Moyad says. This point is right below the base of the skull, and on both sides of the neck (feel for the hollow area below base of skull). "This is one of the most potent acupressure points thought to relieve pain by releasing endorphins," he adds. Use your fingers, thumbs, or knuckles to slowly apply pressure into the hollows of the skull for several minutes, two to three times a day.

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Not-So-Sleepy Nights

If you're dealing with a racing mind before bed the remedy is more about breathing than pressure points, says Nancy Copenhafer, a registered nurse and owner of Body and Mind Therapy in Smyrna, Georgia. "Take ten deep, slow breaths, counting back from ten to one," she says. "Most people usually only make it to seven or six before falling asleep." Another trick to try is closing the third eye chakra, which is located in the middle of the forehead, Copenhafer adds. "Simply imagine an eye in the spot, take your finger and sweep down from your hairline to the eyebrows, and close the 'eyelid,'" she says. "This can help slow the mind's activity."

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A Back That's Out of Whack

Back kinks can ruin everything from a day at your desk to your afternoon Spin class. Dr. Moyad says the best way to beat back pain is to have a friend help you reach this pressure point. It's in the lower back (waist level), two to three fingers-width away from the spine in the hollow between the vertebrae. Press for several minutes and release.

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A Case of the Blahs

If you're in a funk and just can't shake it, Dr. Sandra Earl, a chiropractor and kinesiologist who practices in Atlanta, suggests rubbing or putting gentle pressure on the top of your head at the center (about a thumb's size). "This point is the ultimate balancing point for the Vital Life (or Prana) energy of the body," she says. Hold until you feel reenergized.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, February 2014.

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