Acupressure Overall Health:

How to Use Acupressure for Best Overall Health

By Dr. Ben Kim

Acupressure is a healing art that involves applying pressure to specific points on your body to produce health-promoting effects.

How can applying pressure to different areas of your body help your health? The answer lies in understanding your nervous system.

Having a healthy nervous system is an absolute must if you want to have a healthy body, as the activities of every cell in your body are governed by your nervous system.

An essential requirement for maintaining a healthy nervous system is to provide your largest nerves with optimal blood flow and stimulation, which promote optimal nerve tone - this is akin to regular resistance work and stretching promoting optimal muscle tone.

Applying direct pressure to specific nerves throughout your body on a regular basis is a simple and powerfully effective way to stimulate your nerves and bring them optimal blood flow. Put another way, applying pressure to specific nerves can promote healthy nerve tone, which in turn, promotes good overall health.

One of the best features of acupressure is that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars and many months or years to learn how to use it to help your health.

During a 300-hour postgraduate medical acupuncture program I took several years ago, after spending a number of days reviewing dozens of key nerve and blood vessel points throughout the body and face, I distinctly remember the lead professor saying that even if we treated the same five most powerful points on every patient, irrespective of the health conditions being treated, we would likely get excellent results.

Over time, through my own experiences with providing acupuncture and acupressure treatments, I have found that most people can experience significant health benefits by regularly stimulating just three specific points on a regular basis. For specific health concerns, it's best to have a clinician consider other points as well. But for the vast majority of people, applying pressure to just three points several times a week can provide a real boost to nervous system tone and overall health.

What follows are descriptions and links to pictures of the three acupressure points that I recommend most people stimulate on themselves to promote and maintain good overall health:

  1. Large Intestine 4 (LI-4): located in the soft, fleshy web that sits between your thumb and forefinger.

    LI-4 at

    Anatomy: this point corresponds with a muscular branch of the median nerve, the deep branch of the ulnar nerve, proper palmer digital nerves from the first common palmar digital nerve, and the superficial branch of the radial nerve. Tributary branches of the cephalic vein, the radial artery, and the first dorsal metacarpal artery and companion veins can also be found in this region.

  2. Liver 3 (LR-3): located in the soft flesh that sits between your big and 2nd toes, the equivalent of LI-4 on your foot.

    LR-3 at

    Anatomy: this point corresponds with the medial dorsal cutaneous nerve, the medial branch of the deep peroneal nerve, and a muscular branch from the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve. The dorsal venous network of the foot , the first dorsal metatarsal artery, and a companion vein are also found in this region.

  3. Spleen 6 (SP-6): located approximately three finger widths above the inner ankle bone, in a tender region of the lower calf muscle.

    SP-6 at

    Anatomy: this point is found in between the medial margin of the tibia and the soleus muscle. As you go deeper, this point corresponds with the flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallucis longus muscles. This point also corresponds with a cutaneous branch of the saphenous nerve, motor branches of the tibial nerve, and the deeper trunk of the tibial nerve. A superficial branch of the great saphenous vein, the posterior tibial artery, and a companion vein to the posterior tibial artery are also in this region.

Use your fingers and/or thumbs to massage these points on one or both sides of your body for a few minutes, up to two times a day. For optimal results, massage these points on both sides of your body during each session.

When you correctly locate these points, you should feel some tenderness upon applying pressure to them. Apply enough pressure/massage to create a mild, dull, and possibly achy sensation.

If you are not sure about the location of each of the points listed above, I recommend that you take a look at the following book:

Acupressure's Potent Points: a Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments

I actually recommend this as a reference book for people who are interested in natural health remedies, as it provides clear illustrations of all of the major acupressure points that I and other acupuncturists use in clinical practice.

Another helpful reference book on this topic - one that is often appreciated by folks who want references to scientific literature - is:

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition

If you regularly apply acupressure on yourself to maintain healthy nerve tone, you'll almost certainly experience health benefits.

Please note: It's best to consult with an acupuncturist before receiving acupressure or acupuncture treatments while pregnant. Certain points, including SP-6 can cause uterine contractions. In fact, massaging SP-6 is a natural method of inducing labor when desired.

Also, acupressure should not be applied to legs that have varicose veins. Applying deep pressure or massage to varicose veins can potentially lead to a pulmonary embolism.

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