5 Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back Pain The Reality of Back Pain Pain in the lower back, known medically as ‘lumbago’, is particularly common. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year, and, as a result, back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost workdays annually. Even if you’ve never experienced back pain before, it’s thought that 80% of the population will encounter issues with back pain at some point in their lives. Quite often, the pain will be temporary and will ease by itself. If you find it’s a recurring issue though, it’s definitely something you'll need to deal with, else it might end up becoming a more chronic, long-term issue which could affect everything from your ability to play sport, to how well you sleep at night. What's the Cause?Sometimes, the cause of lower back pain can be difficult to pinpoint, in this case, doctors refer to it as “non-specific” back pain. However, it can sometimes be caused by a medical condition or injury such as a slipped disc - where a disc of cartilage is pressing on a nerve - or Sciatica, an irritation of the nerve that runs from the pelvis down to the feet. There are several things you can do day-to-day to ensure you maintain good posture and limit the risk of back pain or injuries. These include regular exercise, limiting the amount of heavy lifting you have to do, checking you sit correctly and comfortably when watching the TV or when working at a desk, and ensuring you have a supportive mattress.That said, you may still encounter lower back pain, and, if this is the case, a good form of relief can be acupressure. In this article, we aim to take you through the basics of acupressure and its origins and will provide you with our top 5 acupressure points to ease lower back pain. What is Acupressure? Acupressure is a historic practice going back thousands of years and originating in China or India. It involves applying pressure to specific areas of the body and has become a widely-used treatment for a variety of ailments and chronic pains, from sprains to aches, to conditions such as Sciatica, which may need regular application of acupressure. Using similar pressure points to those of acupuncture, but without the application of needles, acupressure involves massaging these areas with a finger, thumb, or specialist device. These points can either be the specific area of pain, where you massage and stretch out the muscle, or alternatively, targeting points that are seemingly unrelated to the problem area. This may seem weird, but the locations of acupressure points are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory that the concept of life energy flows through "meridians" in the body. Meridians are not anatomical parts of the body, rather they’re a traditional Chinese concept of a path through which the life-energy known as "qi" (also spelled “chi”) flows. Acupressure aims to clear blockages in these meridians to promote free-flowing energy, and to stimulate the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi. When performing acupressure, whether on yourself or on others, the application of pressure must be precise and informed, as there are over 650 individual pressure points, with 365 of these located on the major channels. Check out our top 5 acupressure points for targeting lower back pain, below: Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back PainKunlun MountainsAlso known as: Urinary Bladder 60Lower Kunlun MountainsMount KunlunThis acupressure point is essential for reinforcing the kidney energetic system in the case of kidney deficiencies of any kind. You may not realize that you have a kidney issue, as the pain may manifest in other parts of the body. For example, major symptoms of kidney deficiency include lower back weakness, pain in the lower back, and/or susceptibility to injury of the lower back. BL60 can be found midway between the tip of the lateral malleolus (the external ankle bone) and the outer edge of the Achilles tendon. It's great for back pain relief as well as neck stiffness, so this is one to try if you spend hours at a desk staring at a computer screen. Pressure applied to this point is thought to clear heat and lower yang, which in turn can ease the inflammation or pain in the lower back. BL60 is also known for inducing labor in pregnant women, though women who are pregnant must always seek medical advice before performing self-administered acupressure. With this pressure point, use your thumb to apply light pressure and massage the point for a few minutes. Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back PainCelestial GatheringAlso known as:Tian ZongSmall Intestine 11SI 11SI 11 is ideal for reducing lower back pain as well as tension in the shoulders. Indications of problems in this region include pain in the scapular region, pain in the lateral posterior aspect of the elbow and arm, and even asthma. By applying pressure to this point, you’ll be able to activate the channel and alleviate pain by unbinding the chest and lateral costal region. Because of this, it can be beneficial for the breast area, making it a great acupressure point to treat breast problems, mastitis, insufficient lactation and breast pain. This pressure point can also be good for targeting emotional issues such as anxiety. This point can be found on the scapula (shoulder bone), between the lower scapular spine and the inferior angle of the scapula. Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back PainKidney ShuAlso known as:Shen ShuKidney tonification pointBladder 23This pressure point is ideal for reducing tension in the back and alleviating sore muscles. This point is sometimes known as the kidney tonification point, and it’s one of the vital acupressure points for lower back pain. As well as helping with lower back pain, this pressure point offers a plethora of other benefits too, and can be used for treating kidney issues, some female and male sexual issues, chronic fatigue and even issues with hearing, such as tinnitus and chronic ear infections. This point can be located on the bladder line, at the middle of the waist. It’s the intermediate point between the rib cage and the hip bone.Press this point with medium pressure and hold, or rub for 60 to 90 seconds. You may be able to reach it yourself, but it will probably be much more comfortable and effective if you can have someone do it for you. Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back PainMiddle CrookAlso known as: ZhibianBladder 54Lowermost EdgeThis acupressure point helps build up strength in the lower back, and can also help with any lower back pain you’re experiencing, especially pain symptoms caused by herniated discs and sciatica. It’s also known for having benefits for urination and activating the meridian. Indications of this pressure point include Lumbosacral pain, muscular atrophy, pain and numbness and motor impairment of the lower extremities, as well as Dysuria, constipation and hemorrhoids.You’ll find this pressure point at the crease in the back of your knee, however it's important to be careful when massaging this pressure point, as the nerves and vessels here are easily damaged, so simply press gently on the back of your knees to target this area. Acupressure Points to Relieve Lower Back PainBladder VitalsAlso known as:Bladder 48Yang GangYang HeadropeIf you’ve got pain around the Sacrum, hipbone or buttock area, or you suffer from Sciatica, then this pressure point may help to relieve it, making it ideal if you spend a lot of time sat down, for example, driving long distances. Indications of issues in this area include jaundice, abdominal pain, borborygmus, diarrhea and diabetes. This pressure point is located in the middle of the buttock muscle, approximately a hand-width from the sacrum. It's known for its ability to regulate the Gallbladder and clear damp-heat, as well as harmonizing the middle jiao. Most Effective Ways to Apply Pressure Use deep, firm pressure to massage and stimulate each point, but you should also use a more gentle technique if the area is delicate, for example, behind the knee, as mentioned above. When massaging the pressure point, sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.Repeat the practice as often as you like; there is no limit to the number of times a day or week that you can apply acupressure. Besides massaging these points on yourself, anyone can also help massage these points for you. This is particularly useful for targeting pressure points on the back, as these can be hard to reach, or difficult to relax in while applying pressure to yourself.Does it Work? Acupressure points, like acupuncture, have mixed reviews, and, just like medication and other forms of treatment like massage and chiropracty, it works differently for different people. However the great thing about acupressure is that you can do it yourself and it’s completely free (unless you purchase special accessories to accompany the practice, or visit a professional). Because of this, it’s a great technique to try out if you find yourself continually suffering with pain, or if you’re fed up of spending money on different treatments and never quite getting to the root of the issue. It’s also a good way to target specific areas of pain without immediately opting for Opioids and other drugs, which can be very addictive.Self-administered acupressure is not only free, but is also relatively easy to perform, and can help with an array of other issues alongside back pain, such as insomnia, chronic fatigue and even mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. While medical experts agree that more research needs to be carried out on the effectiveness of acupressure, studies have indicated that it can help manage issues such as nausea and vomiting, lower back pain, tension headaches, stomach ache and a multitude of other conditions. You may have heard of people wearing a wristband to combat motion or travel sickness, and this is based on the idea that the band presses down on the P6 acupuncture point as a way to combat nausea. Safety Concerns Generally, acupressure is very safe, however some people should speak to their doctor before practicing acupressure on themselves: If you are pregnant, or if you have high blood pressure, you may need to avoid acupressure, so check with a doctor first. If you have cancer, arthritis, heart disease, or a chronic condition, talk to your doctor first. You should be aware that acupressure cannot treat open wounds, scar tissue, varicose veins, or areas of inflammation or swelling.Additional Tools for Acupressure You may wish to utilise additional instruments for applying pressure to points via rubbing, rolling or targeting the reflex zones of the body:Acuball: this is a small rubber ball with protuberances that you can heat up for extra pain relief. It’s used to apply pressure to muscular or joint pain. Energy roller: Similar to the acuball, this is a cylindrical roller with protuberances, which is placed on the floor so that you can roll your foot back and forth over it. Power mat: the power mat is a mat with small, pyramid shaped bumps on it that you can walk over. Spine roller: This bumpy roller contains magnets and is rolled up and down the spine. The Teishein: Although the Teishein is one of the original nine classical acupuncture needles used by early acupuncturists, it doesn’t actually pierce the skin, and is instead used to apply rapid percussion pressure to certain points on the body. Other Things to Try With AcupressureYogaOne thing that works well with acupressure is yoga. Yoga is thought to have originated in India about 5,000 years ago and is a mind-body practice that can have alleviating effects on not only physical pain, but mental stresses too. It is a great way to relax yourself and strengthen your body. Yoga poses focus on strength, flexibility and breathing. Practicing yoga for just a few minutes a day can loosen tight muscles, keep your body supple and well-postured, and help you become more aware of yourself generally - which can allow you to more easily identify areas where you carry tightness or pain. Poses such as “cat-cow”, “downward-facing dog” and the “extended triangle” are well-suited for targeting tension and pain in the lower-back.While you may think it’s expensive to attend a yoga class at your local gym or community centre, you don’t actually need to attend a class to do it. Yoga can be done at home providing you practice safely. It’s a good idea to use a yoga mat for comfort on hard surfaces and added grip, and always ensure you are warmed up before trying more complex poses. There are a range of videos on youtube offering excellent yoga tutorials. Like any sport or treatment, yoga usually has the most beneficial effect when it’s carried out continually and you practice regularly. After a while, you’ll start to notice a considerable impact on your muscle flexibility, relaxation, posture, and even mental health, too. Acupuncture Similar to acupressure, this ancient chinese practice also targets specific areas of the body, or seemingly unrelated pressure points, that can help unblock meridians. By piercing the points with needles, sensory nerves are stimulated under the skin and in your muscles, promoting the production of pain-relieving endorphins. It is often used for chronic tension headaches, migraines, neck pain, dental pain and joint pain.Acupuncture is usually more beneficial if you have ongoing sessions, rather than one isolated application of the treatment. However, it’s also worth noting that this practice cannot be done at home, and you must seek the advice of a doctor, or visit a specialist acupuncturist in order to receive this treatment. Final VerdictAcupressure works differently for different people; you may find it life-changing, or you may find it has little effect. However, thanks to it being relatively easy to administer, and a free alternative to medical treatments, it's certainly worth giving it a go. It's also more likely to make a difference to your lower back pain if you do it in conjunction with yoga, and if you carry out both of these practices regularly. You can also look to make small changes to your lifestyle, such as ensuring your chair and bed are sufficiently supportive, checking your posture is correct, and regularly exercising.