Instead of using acupuncture needles, acupressure relies on fingers to push on acupoints, or specific sites on the body. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the body’s vital energy, or qi, flows along invisible channels called meridians; blockages cause pain and disease.
Research indicates that pressure on acupoints releases natural painkillers called endorphins and may block the transmission of pain signals along nerves, and studies suggest it eases insomnia and fatigue.
Acupressure was put to the test by teaching American college students the location of acupressure points believed to be either stimulating or relaxing (the students weren’t told which were which). After establishing the volunteers’ baseline alertness, the researchers had them attend 3 days of yawn-inducing lectures. At lunchtime on the first day, half of the students pressed stimulating acupoints; the next 2 days they pressed the relaxation ones. (The other students did the opposite.) On the days the students used the stimulation technique, they reported feeling significantly more alert than when they followed the relaxation routine.
Apply very firm pressure to these 5 stimulating acupoints with your thumb or index and middle fingers; hold each for 3 minutes, massaging in both directions:
1. The base of the skull, one finger-width to the side of the spine.
2. The pad between the joint of the thumb and index finger.
3. The sole of the foot, one-third of the way from the toes.
4. The top center of the head
5. The outside of the leg bone, down from the kneecap.