Today's Daily Tip
On a Roll
Easing Overall Aches and Pains Sometimes all you need to do is put a little pressure right where it hurts. But you might also want to try the indirect approach of acupressure, which unblocks energy at one place in your body to relieve pain elsewhere. Pressing a spot on your hand, for instance, can ease pain in your head.
In fact, the Hoku point (also known as LI 4), deep in the webbing between your thumb and index finger, is a great overall pain reliever, says Michael Reed Gach, the founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California. And unlike pain medications, the Hoku point is always there when you need it-free of charge.
WHAT YOU NEED Your fingers. If you want to explore other acupressure points, pick up a book such as Gach's Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments (Bantam Books, 1990, available from www.stressreliefproducts.com) or Matthew D. Bauer's Healing Power of Acupressure and Acupuncture (Penguin Group, 2005).
WHAT TO DO With the thumb and fingers of one hand, grasp the V-shaped webbing between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. (It's the grasping thumb that goes on the back side of the other hand.) Use the grasping thumb to press close to the bone that attaches to the index finger—angling underneath the bone—to find the place that's most sensitive.
Now apply firm pressure to that spot for at least one minute, and move the area that hurts (your sore neck, for instance) to send it a pain relief message. Repeat on the other side.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR Stay away from the Hoku point if you're pregnant, since it can bring on uterine contractions.
when to go to a pro
Some aches and pains—especially in your back—may signal problems more serious than can be treated with self-massage. The following red flags, suggested by yoga therapist Leslie Kaminoff (founder of the Breathing Project in New York City) and Oakland physician's assistant Laura Turiano, are signs that it's time to see a medical professional.
Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation
Pain that radiates down an arm or a leg
Persistent joint pain
Pain that starts in a joint
Bowel or bladder incontinence
Pain that doesn't improve with rest
Back pain that isn't relieved by lying down or changing position
Any pain that persists for a week or more
(or doesn't improve more than two days after an injury, despite rest and cold packs)
Of course, you can visit a bodywork professional anytime, whether you suffer from these symptoms or not. These pros offer more than just a well-trained pair of hands to reach places you can't. They can help you figure out where your pain or tension is coming from and what to do on your own. So don't let your newfound self-care savvy rule out the occasional, or even regular, visit to an expert.