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Acupressure for Back Pain

Many people experience back pain due to stress, lifting heavy objects, and other strenuous activities.

Acupressure, a centuries-old form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a safe alternative. method of relieving back pain. Acupressure for back pain requires the application of firm stimulation and massaging of the pressure points for back pain.

It resembles reflexology. However, reflexology uses reflexes and follows a reflexology diagram.

Acupressure massage for back pain

What Are Pressure Points for Back Pain?

Acupressure for back pain

Pressure points for back pain can improve healing and blood circulation to contracted muscles, reduce muscle tension, and relieve pain in the sacral, lumbar, thoracic, or cervical spine. Anyone without clotting disorders and other medical conditions can perform self-acupressure for lower back pain when they feel tightness and pain in their back.

There are different acupressure points for lower back pain and acupressure points for upper back pain. This acupressure therapy may include a firm or gentle massage on a specific acupoint to release tension and provide relief.

The Science Behind Acupressure

Back pain acupressure

Although there are limited studies on how acupressure provides benefits, some studies revealed positive effects. Many theories have tried to explain how back pain acupressure points and other specific pressure treatments offer pain relief and relaxation for the body and mind.

The Gate Control Theory by Melzack and Wall suggests that applying pressure on specific acupoints can send pleasurable impulses to the brain four times larger than painful stimuli. Neurohormonal responses are also believed to contribute to the positive effects acupressure has on the body.

According to zone theory, the body is divided into ten zones. The foot is divided into five zones from heel to toe. Zone 1 is the big toe, while zone 5 is the little toe. Zone 1 corresponds to the right and left center of the body, while zone 5 corresponds to the right and left sides of the body.

When Is Acupressure for Back Pain Effective?

Acupressure points for back pain effectively relieve lower and upper back pain. A 2017 study on the effect of acupressure on chronic lower back pain (LBP) revealed that including acupressure for back pain in the physical therapy of patients with the condition could decrease pain and improve mobility.

Acupressure points for back pain are also believed to be useful in the treatment of pain from lumbar and cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis is osteoarthritis in the spine. As a person with spondylosis ages, the condition worsens due to wear and tear. To prevent the illness or manage it, stretching, exercise and acupressure can be effective.

Also, stimulating pressure points can relieve persistent neuropathic pain due to chemotherapy and diabetes.

Relevant studies showed that some pain is due to stress and anxiety. Acupressure can relieve these pains by decreasing muscle tension and providing relaxation. Other conditions that can be treated by acupressure for back pain include shoulder tension, neck pain, headaches, fatigue, and deficiencies in the immune system.

Acupressure, however, cannot treat open wounds or varicose veins.

Seven Acupressure Points for Back Pain Relief

Below are seven major pressure points to relieve back pains:
Spleen 6 (SP-6)

Spleen 6 (SP-6)

The Spleen 6 is also known as the Sanyinjiao. It is located on the lower calf, above the ankle. It is about a four-finger distance above the bone of the bony prominence of the ankle. The SP 6 is a common acupressure point because it provides various benefits such as relief from pelvic pain, stress reduction, general well-being, and labor induction. This is a female acupressure point for back pain as it can also decrease anxiety during labor and delivery.

  • To stimulate this point, apply firm pressure to the area for a few seconds using the index finger. Have a one-minute break before pressing it again.

Note: Since stimulating the Spleen 6 can induce labor, pregnant women who are not yet due for delivery should avoid stimulating this point.

Stomach 36 (ST 36)

Stomach 36 (ST 36)

The Stomach 36 is located about a four-finger distance from the bottom of the knee cap. From the four-finger distance, measure about two fingers width from the tibia toward the lower leg.

The ST 36 can reduce stress and fatigue, reducing underlying back pain. This point can also relieve leg, knee, and abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Stimulate the ST 36 by applying firm and downward pressure on the area. Perform the same process on the other leg.
Large Intestine 6 (LI 6)

Large Intestine 6 (LI 6)

The Large Intestine 6, or Piano, is located on the radial side of the forearm. It can decrease neck pain, headaches, stress, dental cavities, and pain in the dorsum of the hand.

  • Apply pressure to the point for a few seconds before releasing it. Repeat as needed.
Pericardium 6 (P6)

Pericardium 6 (P6)

The Pericardium 6 is a point used in hand acupressure for back pain. It is located at the wrist, palm side, and a few inches toward the arm. To quickly find this point, place three fingers, starting from the crease of the wrist. Just beside the third finger toward the body, look at the point between two tendons.

Putting pressure on the P6 can relieve headaches and decrease anxiety and nausea.

  • Apply pressure and gently massage the area to stimulate it.
Gallbladder 21  (GB 21)

Gallbladder 21 (GB 21)

Gallbladder 21 is also known as the shoulder well, or Jianjing. It is located in the middle between the spine and tip of the shoulder and about two fingers width from the back of the neck. These back pain acupressure points can relieve a stiff neck, headache, shoulder tightness, and back pain.

  • Apply pressure on the GB 21 point, then massage and hold for four to five seconds.

Note: The GB 21 is contraindicated for pregnant women because it can induce labor.

Triple Energizer 3 (TE 3)

Triple Energizer 3 (TE 3)

The TE 3, or Shu-stream point, is located at the dorsal portion of the hand, on the groove between the ring finger and pinky. It can relieve upper back pain, stiff neck, tight shoulders, and headache.

  • Apply pressure, massage the area for a few seconds, and repeat as needed.
Large Intestine 10

Large Intestine 10

The Large Intestine 10, or Shousanli in Chinese, is on the front of the elbow. It can relieve shoulder tightness and pain, paralysis of the upper extremities, and abdominal pain.

  • Press and massage the area to stimulate it.

How to Perform the Massage Correctly

Self Massage

To gain the benefits of acupressure, it is vital that you understand the concept of acupressure and perform the massage correctly. Not doing so, or performing the massage incorrectly, could lead to injuries

It is also necessary to dedicate adequate time to acupressure. It’s something you should be able to do without thinking of other things. This is to help your body relax and fully experience the benefits.

Take note, however, that while some see and feel results immediately, others will need several sessions. It will depend on various factors, such as your body’s condition.

Pressure points on the feet for back pain and other pressure points in the body can be stimulated multiple times a day or even prolonged for an hour. If it can't be done daily, it should be done at least two or three times a week.

Below are the steps to perform massage correctly:

  • Relax

    Find a comfortable position. This can be whether sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes and do deep breathing exercises in a dedicated space. Try to relax the jaw and shoulders.

  • Put Firm Pressure on The Point

    Gradually apply pressure on the pressure point. Start by using light pressure for one to four minutes. Find the tender areas and apply pressure firmly. Some people may experience side effects or symptoms such as soreness and pain. Gradually decrease the pressure when the pain increases in intensity.

    Also, when you find the right acupoint, hold steady pressure on the area. These points can be tiny, and it is vital to press the right spot. Apply pressure for at least two to three minutes before gradually removing the pressure.

  • Repeat the Motions

    Repeat the motion or movement as needed. It can be done multiple times an hour. There’s no risk of overstimulation.

Pranamat Eco set

Acupressure for Back Pain Is Easy with Pranamat Eco

A Pranamat eco set, which includes a massage mat, massage pillow, and storage bag, can really help when it comes to stimulating back pain pressure points. Pranamat eco can also stimulate the release of endorphins to relieve muscle tension, lower and upper back pain, headaches, and stress.

Final Thoughts

Pranamat massage set

The body consists of numerous pressure points which are believed to be connected to body parts and organs. Corresponding pressure points provide various benefits, such as relieving back pain.

Although acupressure is a safe and non-invasive therapy with numerous benefits, it is essential to be aware that some pressure points are contraindicated for pregnant women because they can induce labor. People with other disorders or medical conditions will also need to consult their physician before starting acupressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pressure points for back pain are specific acupoints that are believed to relieve lower or upper back pain. Some popular pressure points for back pain include Spleen 6, Stomach 36, Gallbladder 21, Pericardium 6, Triple Energizer 3, Large Intestine 6, and Large Intestine 10. Aside from the pressure points mentioned, other points can also relieve back pain.

Acupressure for back pain effectively relieves chronic lower back pain and upper back pain. Pressure points for back pain can also relieve shoulder pain, neck stiffness, and even stress.

Several studies have already shown the effectiveness of acupressure to relieve different types of pain, including back pain. However, the exact reason for the benefits of acupressure is not yet proven. There are theories that seek out explanations. To understand how acupressure works, extensive studies still need to be conducted.