Traditional Oriental Medicine works on the premise that we have a flow of energy in our body called Ki or Qi, which flows through energy Channel pathways, also called Meridians.
When this Ki energy flows smoothly through the channels, we have good health. Neck pain is a sign that we have a stagnation of Ki energy in the energy channels of our neck, head and upper shoulders.
The Large Intestine Channel (runs through the neck)
To help with neck pain, we work on one of the energy channel pathways that passes through that neck. This channel is called the Large Intestine Channel.
This energy channel starts on the hand, travels up the arm, passes through the neck and into the head. It is called the Large Intestine Channel, because another branch of the channel also travels deeper and connects to the colon. Therefore, you can also use this point for constipation.
The Acupressure Points
The three points for neck pain are called L.I. 10, L.I. 11, and L.I. 4. (Large Intestine 10, Large Intestine 11 and Large Intestine 4).
Large Intestine 4 (L.I.4)
The Large Intestine 4 point is on the upper part of the hand between the metatarsal bones of the thumb and index finger. There is a small bulge when you press your thumb and index finger together. The point is at the top of this bulge. Feel around for a tender spot.
Contra-indication – If Pregnant
A caution: If you are pregnant, do not massage this point as it causes the energy to descend. Instead use the following two points – LI 11 and LI 10
Press this point with the pad of your thumb and rub in a circular motion 10 times.
Large Intestine 11 (L.I. 11)
Next is the LI 11 point. This is close to the elbow on the outer part of the arm. Flex your arm and you can see a tendon. Next find the bone at the elbow. The point lies in the middle of the tendon and this bone. It is on the elbow crease.
Again, rub this point 10 times with your thumb.
Large Intestine 10 (L.I.10)
This point is on the outer aspect of the forearm. Imagine a line between L.I. 4 and L.I. 11. The point lies on this line approximately two finger breaths away from L.I. 11.
Again, massage this point 10 times.
Scientists at Nihon Fukushi University in Japan, researched the effects of acupressure in women with chronic neck pain.
33 female subjects who complained of chronic neck pain participated in the present study.
One of the control groups were instructed to use these three points. They were instructed to massage the three points with the flat of their thumb in a circular motion for 20 to 25 times on both sides of the arm.
Afterwards, it was found that acupressure in these distal points significantly reduced some of their pain scores.
The scientists wrote:
“Acupuncture at the distal acupuncture points could improve pain conditions in chronic neck pain patients”
Two or three times a day is fine. Perhaps, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, or whenever you feel like doing it. You do not need to massage 20 to 25 times, like in the study. 10 times is fine. However, if the pain is severe, try doing it 20 – 25 times, three times a day.
You do not need to press hard. Gentle pressure is fine. You are simply opening and warming up the point to allow the energy to move smoothly through the channel.
After you massage these points, you may feel more relaxed. When you finish, take 5 minutes and practice some relaxed breathing. Afterwards you will feel rejuvenated.
Images taken from A Manual of Acupuncture. P. Deadman, M. Al-Khafaji, K. Baker. 2001. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications.
Comparative Effects of Acupressure at Local and Distal Acupuncture Points on Pain Conditions and Autonomic Function in Females with Chronic Neck Pain. T. Matsubara, Y-C Arai, Y. Shiro, K. Shimo, M. Nishihara, J. Sato, T. Ushida. Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2011.