Paige Bourassa is a licensed acupuncturist with a thriving practice in the heart of New York City. In mbg’s newest class, Essential Guide To Acupressure: Relieve Back Pain, Reduce Headache Tension & Calm Your Anxiety, Paige introduces you to the ancient Chinese medicine practice of acupressure, teaching you how to relieve pain and tension on your own, as well as learning meditation and visualization techniques to feel like the best version of yourself.
Aches and pains cramping your style? Whether you have been struggling with chronic back pain for years or it’s a new flare-up in your life, getting to the cause of the pain quickly is a top priority. The most common causes of low back pain are age, strenuous physical activity, accidents and injuries, inactivity, chronic diseases, and genetic disorders.
It’s frustrating to imagine that the two-a-day cross fitter is going to be injured as well as the desk jockey who sits all day, but those are the facts. With approximately 80 percent of adults experiencing lower back pain at some point in their lives, having a secret arsenal of acupuncture points is a must for pain relief anytime and anywhere. They will hold you over, getting you through the party or off the flight in one piece until you can visit your friendly neighborhood acupuncturist. Here are my all-time favorite acupressure points for lower back pain:
1. Press on your lower middle back, on Urinary Bladder 23.
Known as the kidney tonification point, acupressure point UB23 is one of the vital acupressure points for lower back pain. Stimulating UB23 provides lasting relief from lower back pain by reducing muscle tension, and it feels amazing. Press this point with medium pressure and hold, or rub for 60 to 90 seconds. Repeat as necessary—if you can have someone do it for you, you’ll be able to relax into the treatment much better.
Locate this point: This point can be found on the bladder line. The bladder line is at the middle of the waist, the intermediate point between the rib cage and the hip bone, on both sides of the inner edge of the muscle group around your spine called erector spinae.
2. Press into your butt to stimulate Gallbladder 30.
Gallbladder 30 is yet another significant focal point for the treatment of lower back pain and releasing tension carried from the low back and hips. GB30 relieves pain in the lumbar spine (the lower part), hips, legs, and helps to improve circulation overall.
Locate this point: This point can be found in a tender spot on the buttocks, one-third of the way from the highest point of the sacrum (top of your butt crease) to the hip point. Draw a line between the two and split into thirds; this point is found at the first third, closer to the outside of your buttock.
3. Press into the back of your knee crease for Urinary Bladder 40.
The Urinary Bladder 40 or UB40 acupressure point is a tender point that helps immensely with most pain sensations along the spine. Stimulating this point on both legs helps in relieving stiffness and lower back pain, especially pain symptoms caused by herniated discs and sciatica. It is also useful for controlling muscle spasms, knee stiffness, arthritis in the surrounding areas, leg pain, and can help release heat from the body.
Locate this point: This point, called “Middle Crook,” is located in the middle of the crease in the back of the knee.
4. Press the fleshy point between your pointer finger and your thumb with Large Intestine 4.
Probably the most well-known acupuncture point, LI 4, is the main pain point in the body. It can help alleviate most pain syndromes, especially when coupled with the other local back pain points. It is tender and should be pressed for 60 to 90 seconds and repeated if necessary.
Locate this point: This point is located in the fleshy webbing between the pointer finger and thumb. You can stimulate it from both the top and the bottom of the depression in the webbing and is easily accessed by pinching with your other thumb and index finger.
5. Press into your outer ankle, on Urinary Bladder 62.
Urinary Bladder 62 or “extending vessel” is said to release lumbar tension as well as stabilize the spirit mind, which makes this point, which can be found on the foot, a great choice to soothe anxiety caused by acute back pain. All lower foot points are excellent to treat back pain, which is why reflexology can be so useful in lumbar spasms.
Locate this point: This point is located in the fleshy depression directed under the lateral or outside ankle bone. Stimulating this point on both feet and then carrying on to massage firmly underneath the feet along the arches helps in relieving stiffness and inhibited range of motion along the spine.
You can mix and match the points mentioned above or follow the sequence—the order matters less than how you treat each. Touch the points with intention, and take your time. The technique will help alleviate immediate pain, and you can revisit it at any time, for more long-term help with back pain, contact our office located in Union Square, New York City, or find your local acupuncturist and get some needles!
Paige has created acupressure routines for many ails. Whether you’re feeling nauseated or hungover, experiencing allergies, can’t think clearly, have PMS symptoms like bloating and cramping, feel super tired, or can’t sleep, there’s an acupressure point for that! Sign up here for her exclusive, live webinar on February 13 to get your personal acupressure questions answered!
Acupuncture originated in China nearly three millenniums ago, and involves applying pressure to acupuncture points across the body to help ease pain and improve overall wellbeing. Ancient practitioners believed that applying pressure to these points helped to encourage the flow of a vital energy called Qi (pronounced chi) through pathways that connect the body’s vital organs.
Contemporary Western practitioners, however, consider acupuncture to work by reducing muscle tension and releasing endorphins that act as the body’s natural pain relievers. Although there are over 400 acupressure points across the body, modern experts believe that five stand out as the most important for treating back pain.
1. The Stomach Point
Traditional Chinese acupuncturists call the Stomach Point the ‘Sea of Energy’. Applying firm pressure to the Stomach Point helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, which can eliminate lower back problems before they occur.
Location: Your stomach point is located approximately two fingers from your naval.
2. The Lower Back Point
The Lower Back Point is also known as the ‘Sea of Vitality’. Like the Stomach Point, applying pressure to this point offers effective pain relief from lower back pain as well as sciatica.
Location: Your Lower Back Point is approximately located between the second and third vertebrae from the bottom of your spine.
3. Hipbone Points
The Hipbone Points are sometimes referred to as the Womb and Vitals. Applying gentle pressure to both these Hipbone Points will help to relieve you of both hip pain and lower back pain, as well as sciatica and pelvic stress.
Location: Your Hipbone Points are located approximately two finger widths from the large bony area at the bottom of your spine, midway between the top of your hipbone and the base of your buttocks.
4. The Knee Back Points
In acupuncture, the Knee Back Points are often referred to as the Commanding Middle. Applying firm pressure to the Knee Back Points is an effective method for reducing stiffness in the back and sciatica, as well as knee and hip pain.
Location: The Knee Back Points, unsurprisingly, are located at the dead centre of the back of your knee.
5. The Hand Points
Although it might seem strange to perform acupuncture on your hand for back pain, the Hand Point is directly connected to stress and stiffness in the back. Consequently, applying firm pressure to the Hand Points is great for reducing this stress and stiffness.
Location: Your Hand Points are located between your thumb and your index finger. First, lie your hand on a flat surface, and then apply pressure to this area repeatedly, with three second intervals, until the pain is relieved.
DIY Acupuncture for Back Pain Relief
Traditionally, acupuncture is carried out by a professional who, depending on the type of pain you’re suffering with, inserts thin needles into specific acupuncture points across the body. However, you can create a similar effect for pain relief purposes by applying firm pressure to acupuncture points with your hand.
For even greater pain relief, you could also consider using a pain gone pen. Research shows that this hand held, portable Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) device is excellent for administering non-invasive acupuncture treatment via the five points outlined above.
However, if your back is particularly weak, or if you are suffering from chronic back pain, please do not apply pressure to any of the acupuncture points described, yourself. Instead, you should consult an expert or a doctor for specialist advice.