Acupressure Fingers Hands and a Whole Lot More

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In This Chapter

V Learn how to use your fingers, palms, and feet to release tired and sore muscles

V Know how hard to push before you go too far

V Discover the three kinds of pressure and when to use them

V Activate yourQi channels with these stimulating, easy-to-learn techniques

I used to hear the same excuses from my friends and family every time I wanted them to give me an acupressure treatment. "Oh, I can't do that I don't know how." This chapter is for all the people who would like to learn the simple yet powerful techniques used in acupressure or have an idea exactly how your acu-pro works.

By reading this chapter and following the pictures, you'll feel more confident in the way you perform acupressure, including just the right amount of pressure. Every time you practice, your sensitivity will increase. By asking yourself and others how they feel afterward, you'll continue to guide yourself along in the right direction of healing and centered relaxation. So, no more excuses: It's time to give the best acupressure session there is. Let's go for it!

From Fingers to Feet—Using Your Body to Heal

When performing acupressure either on yourself or others, think about what you want to accomplish; do you want to help someone relax a sore muscle, increase circulation, or improve his or her digestion? In Oriental Medical traditions in addition to just knowing which points to use, thinking about your intended result helps focus your mind and center your own healing potential. No matter which technique or breathing pattern you use, remember to bring along my two favorite companions: heart and soul!

Fingers and Palms... Hold On!

Palm pressure is noted for its soothing penetration to acu-points and larger muscle groups. Your palm and finger should be relaxed, letting the natural shape and contour of the muscle determine the exact hand position (see the following figure).

Your thumb is an important tool to press on acupoints, but it's not big enough to carry the entire burden of the treatment. Use your fingers to support and protect the workhorse of the hand—your thumb.

Your elbow is used to stimulate acu-points that are located in deep layers of muscle or fatty tissue that can't be reached by your fingers or thumb. I also use my elbows to break up stubborn muscle knots that have resisted more gentle approaches. By using proper body alignment and balance, firm yet comfortable pressure can be applied through your elbow that might otherwise quickly fatigue your palms or fingers.

Harm Alarm

Don't tire yourself out! Pressing on acu-points can be hard work. Use fingers to reinforce and support your thumb. Spread out the workload so you can keep on pressing like a pro.

Relaxed palm and fingers conform to the shape of the muscle and can deliver consistent pressure.

Support your thumb with a relaxed fist, which rests flat against the skin

Mailbag

Stacey worked on her feet in a grocery store all day long. By midday she felt a tightening of her hips and buttocks area that would spasm frequently during the afternoon, which made it challenging for her to work the whole day and even more difficult for her to fun-tion later that night as a single parent of two children. I diagnosed her condition as a stuck or stagnant Qi in the channels from overuse, resulting in tight, sore muscles. When I applied direct vertical pressure to her hips she felt sore while I was pressing, while experiencing a great sense of pain relief following the techniques. I used a combination of vertical pressure with my elbow in which I could control the application of sustained direct pressure, and stretching. As she improved, I taught her how to do the acupressure with a tennis ball and continue with the streching on her own. The last time I was in the store she was beaming with a smile.

Your elbow is a great tool for deep or stubborn muscle knots. Staying balanced and aligned will help you deliver firm yet gentle relief.

Feet: Please Tread on Me

Believe it or not, having your back walked on can be one of the most relaxing acupressure techniques you'll ever experience. Let me explain that only thoroughly qualified, petite practitioners get to walk on the muscles on either side of your spine—and never directly on it! They have been specially trained to feel your tense muscles with sensitivity in their feet, much like you may have in your hands. They let their weight (which isn't much) sink slowly and carefully into your back.

Feet are an effective tool for firm, contoured pressure.

Most of the time, feet are used to press acu-points much like you would use the palm. One foot is on the floor while the other delivers contoured pressure over a larger muscle area such as the back, arms, or legs. I would suggest only doing work on the back if you've had specific training.

Pressure on the Point—How Hard Do You Push?

Acupressure uses firm yet gentle penetrating pressure on acu-points. These points may already be sore to the touch, so go easy Healing is not a horse race. Keep asking ^^^ your subject if the pressure feels good, or if it is so strong that it keeps you or your subject from relaxing

Many acupressure therapists develop abilities to sense the Qi in the acu-points. The books and charts will get you close to the right acu-point, sensing will put you on the mark. I locate points by going to the general area and then wait to feel the energy of the point. Sometimes it's a warm or tingling feeling, or a small buzz or spark. Other times I feel the energy sink in or push back against me. In my experience, sensing the energy of the point, either drawing you in (deficient Qi) or pushing you away (excessive Qi), is part of the real art and skill of acupressure.

Wise Words

The feeling-from acupressure should resemble the pull of gravity: natural, effective, and unobtrusive.

Three Types of Pressure

The first question most of my patients interested in acupressure ask me is "How hard do I push?" The amount or type of pressure is determined by the condition. A simple test is to press gently into an area that hurts. Does that feel better or worse with firm direct pressure? If a condition feels worse with pressure, it usually means that there is not enough Qi or Qi circulation in the area. You'll read more about this condition in

Chapter 6, "How You Get Sick—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." In such cases, you'll want to apply more gentle and stationary pressure. Firmer more vertical pressure aids areas that have too much Qi stuck in them and feel relieved following this more direct pressure.

> Vertical. Pressing straight into the skin for three to five seconds.

> Stationary. Applying pressure while holding an acu-point or points. Holding points for 2-30 seconds can help open energy channels, relax muscles, and calm internal organs.

> Supporting. Allowing your own Qi to support the healing of another. Sometimes the mental focus or intention you have will dissolve the blockage better than physical pressure alone.

I recommend that you keep your mind focused on your desired intentional outcome—support for all of the acupressure techniques used. Combining your mental and physical energies is essential to giving a successful acupressure treatment.

Common Acupressure Techniques-Shake, Rattle, and Roll

This is where the rubber hits the road. It's time to practice a few of the acupressure techniques on a friend or family member. Remember to be gentle and read carefully before starting. These techniques are safe and easy to perform with a little practice, so lay the book beside you and have fun learning acupressure.

Your index finger is bent to support the thumb. Apply firm vertical pressure with thumb and index finger.

Get the Point

The strength, stability, and power of acupressure come from the ability to move your body's weight evenly through your elbows, into your fingers. Rikyu, founder and master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, once said, "Don't shake your tea whisk with your fingertips, but with your elbow."

Get the Point

The strength, stability, and power of acupressure come from the ability to move your body's weight evenly through your elbows, into your fingers. Rikyu, founder and master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, once said, "Don't shake your tea whisk with your fingertips, but with your elbow."

Lightly pinch and pull up muscles before applying thumb or palm pressure.

Place one palm on the top, forming crossed hands, for more controlled and even pressure.

Tapping increases circulation and invigorates tired muscles. Lightly tap with palms or fingertips. Relax your fingers, moving your wrists and elbows. I recommend tapping lightly for 5-15 seconds on a point to loosen tight, congested Qi. A little tap will do y a!

I hope you have gained some understanding of the considerable training that an acupressure therapist goes through in order to get the oooos and aaaahs from you. With practice you can be quite the popular one in your house. Next we'll move onto acupuncture, which I'd leave up to the pros. Would you be surprised to learn that needles are only a portion of what they've got to help you with? Read on!

The Least You Need to Know

V Use your fingers to support thumb pressure.

V Palm pressure follows the contour of the muscles.

V Acupressure feels like the pull of gravity—natural, effective, and unobtrusive.

V Light tapping invigorates tired muscles, but can cause increased tension if overdone.

Chapter 5

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