The number of desk chairs advertised to support low-back health and reduce neck and shoulder pain should be an indication of the strain sitting for so many hours a day can put on your body. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day places between 20 and 30 extra pounds of pressure on your neck and shoulders each day. Poor posture can also contribute to neck low-back pain and tightness in your hips. As our society shifts to predominately seated, desk jobs, it’s important to have strategies to support your physical well-being while you work.
Acupressure, using your hands to place pressure on specific points on your body, can be one way to relieve pain. Acupressure is a variation of acupuncture, a centuries-old Chinese medical practice where small needles are inserted into those same points on the body, encouraging energy flow and circulation to the part of the body correlated to that point. Research has shown acupressure can provide significant pain relief when done correctly.
Acupressure points can be stimulated for between 30 seconds and a few minutes at a time by using firm pressure in a circular or up and down motion. You can repeat the pressure a few times, or as many as feels beneficial. Regular stimulation of the points has been shown to provide the greatest benefit. It is especially helpful to focus on your breathing – slow and steady, maybe slightly deeper – while you press on particular points.
Here are five acupressure points to relieve pain in the neck and back. You can do these while seated at your desk or anytime during your day.
Bladder 54 or Middle Crook is the point behind your knee, directly in the crease. This point can help relieve lower back stiffness as well as low back pain due to a herniated disk or sciatica, low back pain caused by nerve compression in the lower spine.
Union Valley is a powerful point located on the fleshy part of your hand in between your thumb and pointer finger. Applying firm pressure to this point can relieve shoulder tension, neck pain and reduce stress.
Triple Energizer 3, or Zhong Zhu, is another point on your hands, easily stimulated while seated at a desk. This point is located below the knuckles, in the depression between the tendons that run up your ring and pinky fingers. It can be used for shoulder and neck tension as well as upper back pain.
The Wind Pool point is another powerful point for shoulder and neck pain and stiffness. To find the point, place your hands on the back of your head and find the two depressions on the outer edge of the neck muscle. The point is right at the base of the skull, about two inches out from the midline of the spine. Pressing firmly on this point and slowly moving your thumbs up to your skull can relieve neck pain, stiffness, shoulder pain and an inability to turn the neck.
The Third Eye point can be used to alleviate pain, pressure or tightness that can creep in due to mental fatigue at the end of a long work day. The point is located right in between the eyebrows. Use your middle finger to apply pressure to the point. This can help relax your mind, relieve fatigue, stress and eye strain, and improve concentration.