After stowing the passport and whipping out the phone, it’s straight to the pharmacy bins at the airport market for some long-haul fliers, who slam all sorts of pills, tonics and remedies to alleviate aches and ills.
But there’s another choice — acupressure.
Acupressure is the practice of pressing or massaging certain points on the body said to stimulate self-curative abilities.
For each of the points described below, you may need to press or rub the point in 20- to 30-second intervals for up to 10 minutes before the effect is felt.
You may also need to use it repeatedly throughout the day.
Play around to find what works best.
Note: The author of this story is not a medical doctor. For serious medical issues, always consult a qualified physician.
1. Motion sickness and nausea: anti-vomiting point
Ever seen those wrist bands people wear for boat or car trips? Those are designed to press on this point to relieve motion sickness and nausea.
This is also the first point I talk about with fellow travelers.
Locate: Inside the forearm, two thumb-widths above the wrist crease, between the two tendons. The point is actually located below surface level, so pushing deep is most effective.
2. Neck and back pain: back-movement point
Long days traveling, cheap hotel pillows and dragging around a mammoth suitcase can cause neck, shoulder or lumbar pain.
Rubbing this point eases these complaints.
For a stiff neck, rub in small circles while slowly turning the head one direction and then the other.
Locate: Make a loose fist and, looking at the pinky side, find the last crease (just below the biggest knuckle). The point is found along that line at the intersection of the two slightly different shades of skin.
3. Sore throat and lightheadedness: cold-relief point
Overnight flights, sudden climatic changes and air pollution can all increase a traveler’s susceptibility to the common cold.
Rubbing or pressing this point relieves symptoms associated with colds, including sore throat, cough, sneezing and body aches, plus lightheadedness.
Locate: Loosely interlock your thumbs at the webbing — both palms facing down, keeping your wrists straight, extend your index finger to the skinny edge of your wrist.
Under the pad of your index finger in the prominent bone you’ll find a small depression — that’s the point. Reverse the top position of the hands to find the point on the other side.
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4. Headache, constipation and fever: release point
Whether you feel a headache coming on from dehydration, too much drinking or just the pains of traveling, press this point to relieve headaches and general pain.
When unfamiliar food or the poor diet of travel leaves you constipated, massage here. This point is also used to reduce fever.
Caution: this point can induce labor, so don’t use on pregnant women.
Locate: Spread your index finger and thumb, then place the joint of your opposite thumb along the webbing and bend the thumb over. The point is just in front of the tip of your thumb — search around until you find the sore spot.
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5. Digestive issues: stomach-solution point
Exotic food, unfamiliar environments and less-than-sanitary conditions can wreak havoc on normal digestion.
Use this point for abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, as well as accompanying fatigue and weakness.
A harder massage may be required, but it should feel tender when you’ve found the right point.
Locate: The point is on the outer shin, just below the knee. Relax the leg straight, place your four fingers on your knee with the index finger against the knee cap.
Mark the horizontal level under the pinky finger. At that level, using the middle section of your middle finger, place the knuckle on the shin bone, where the second knuckle lands (going toward the outside of the leg) in a vertical line.
The point is found at the intersection.
6. Insomnia and disturbed dreams: peaceful-sleep point
When jet lag or new surroundings leave you unable to sleep, light pressure on this point can help ease you into a restful slumber and reduce excessive dreaming.
Locate: Find the styloid process muscle on the side of the neck, follow that up to where it meets the skull. There it forms an A-like depression with the skull going toward the back of the head — that’s the point.
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7. Anxiety and over-thinking: spirit-calming point
Perhaps you’re stressed about business or worried about general travel plans. If your mind is racing, use this point to relieve anxiety and calm down.
Lightly rubbing or pressing the point reduces stress and aids sleep (combine with peaceful-sleep point).
Locate: Look on the underside of your wrist and find the last tendon on the pinky side. The point is just inside that tendon on the wrist crease next to the palm.
8. Overall wellness: supplementary point
Acupoints are often used in combination for greater effect. This point can aid the success of the points listed above for dry or sore throat and dizziness, headache and constipation, lower back pain, insomnia, fatigue.
This point may also provide some comfort when you’re stuck on a bus with no bathroom breaks.
Locate: On the inside of the ankle, in the depression located halfway between the Achilles and the most prominent point of the ankle bone, rub or press here.
For best results
Putting pressure on acupoints, known as acupressure, encourages “qi” or energy flow, straightens out imbalances in the body, activates the immune system and aids proper circulation.
When finding acupoints, follow the instructions provided, but always seek to find the sore or tender point, usually next to a bone or tendon, as that will be most effective.
Points are symmetrical on both sides of the body, but applying pressure to one side may work better than the other. Some points and conditions respond better to massage while others to pressing.
Sometimes lighter pressing works well, other times harder is better.
Originally published November 2011. Updated September 2, 2013.
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