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Acupressure for Back Pain

by Dr. Davina, L.Ac., DAOM.

Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions we treat in an acupuncture clinic.

Especially with so many people working at home now, often without the benefit of ergonomic office spaces, it’s little surprise that people are feeling so stiff.

While it’s always best to be seen by a professional, we alway like to help our patients find relief in between sessions. One of the easiest ways to relieve pain when you can’t get to the clinic is doing acupressure on yourself or a loved one.

Acupressure uses the same points as acupuncture, except the points are stimulated with your fingers instead of a needle.

Here are 4 acupressure points to help keep your back healthy, flexible and pain free in between your acupuncture appointment.

UB 60

UB 60, or Kunlun in Chinese, is named after one of the largest mountain ranges in China. This point helps give us the strength and support to stand tall like a mountain.

Where to find it

UB 60 is directly behind the outside ankle bone (lateral malleolus) between the bone and the Achilles tendon. Press around until you find the most tender area.

Acupressure for Back Pain - UB 60

How to use it

It is a powerful point that can help reduce pain anywhere in the body. This is especially true if the pain is worse in the cold, first thing in the morning, or with changes in weather. It provides the best relief for pain along the back, lower back, and sacrum. It’s also good for stiff joints in the hands and wrists.

Massage the point with your hand while gently moving the afflicted area. If your practitioner recommends moxa, this is one of the best points to use it on.

UB 40

UB 40, or Wei Zhong, is considered the ‘command point’ of the lower back. And as this name would indicate, it is the primary point for releasing lower back pain.

Where to find it

UB 40 is in the middle of the back of the knee. Press around until you find the most tender area. Caution: don’t use excessive pressure on this point, as a major nerve and vessel pass through this area.

Acupressure for Back Pain UB 40

How to use it

As the command point of the lower back, this point is useful for any lower back pain. Press on the point until you feel a dull ache, but not pain, that may radiate down the calf. Gently move the afflicted area while activating this point.

Release the point if you feel sharp pain, numbness, or tingling from this point.

Most lower back pain is actually from the hip flexors, especially the psoas. For more detailed information on this, see my previous post: Lower Back Pain? It Might Be Your Hip Flexors.

These acupressure points can help loosen the hip flexors, which will then help take pressure off the lower back.

KD 4

KD4 is often used as a reflex for the hip flexors, and I often find that this point is more tender on the side where the hips are tighter.

Where to find it

Come down the inside of the ankle where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone (calcaneus). This point is often quite tender, especially if the psoas is tight.

Acupressure for Back Pain KD 4

How to use it

The hip flexors include two major muscles, the iliacus that wraps around the bowl of the pelvis, and the psoas which connects the thigh bone and lower back. KD 4 is generally better for relaxing the psoas muscle, and therefore better for the lower back, especially when the pain is more of a soreness or dull ache.

GB 41

GB 41 is a powerful point that is often also quite tender. It can open the Gallbladder channel, which traverses the entire lateral side of the body. Additionally, it is the opening point of the belt channel, which wraps around the pelvis.

How to find it

Press your finger between the fourth and pinky toes, come up between the foot bones (metatarsals) until you find an especially tender point.

Acupressure for Back Pain GB 41

How to use it

As the opening point for the Belt channel, it works best for the iliacus muscle, the hip flexor that wraps around the bowl of the pelvis. It’s also a useful point for headaches that radiate into the eye. It can also help any pain along the side of the body or worse with rotation. Interestingly, I’ve also found it helps desensitize people who are ticklish.

Many Lives Chinese Medicine
Acupuncturist Redwood City
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