Foot Pressure Points: 15 Pressure Points On The Feet And How To Use Them
The bottom of your feet has more sensitive nerve-endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body.
Pretty crazy right?
This article is going to talk about the pressure points in our feet and how we can manipulate those pressure points to relieve common aches and ailments such as headaches, coughs, and nausea to name a few.
What are the foot’s pressure points? Pressure points are specific points on the body that when pressed, brings relief from pain and other illnesses. Reflexology and acupressure both use pressure points in their touch therapy treatments. Reflexology emphasizes relieving stress so it doesn’t harm the body while acupressure involves restoring the flow of blocked qi (chi) to avoid its manifesting as an illness. With over 800 pressure points all over the body, let’s focus on the 15 found on the foot and learn how to manipulate them for quick relief and pain management.
How Do Pressure Points Work?
Pressure is applied on the body’s acupoints with the use of fingers, the knuckles, the palms, or a tool.
Stretching and other massage techniques may also be applied.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that the body has 800 pressure points scattered throughout 14 meridians.
These 14 meridians are where a person’s qi flows.
A blockage in the flow disturbs the body’s natural balance and may lead to pain, discomfort, and even disease.
To release stagnant qi and restore balance to the life force in the body, a trained therapist applies controlled, gentle pressure to a pressure point.
TCM explains the relief as the restoration of energy flow to an area.
There is relief from pain and discomfort is lessened or entirely goes away.
Science has not been fully able to explain the life force concept and continue to study pressure points and its benefits.
The relief is attributed to the relaxation of muscle tension and the body’s release of endorphins.
Pressure Points On Feet And What They Mean
Going back to the theory pressure points are linked to certain parts of the body and specific organs, here are 15 pressure points on the feet and the ailments it will treat when it is massaged.
1. Tai Chong
Locate this pressure point by pressing on the tendon between the big toe and the second toe.
Press on the gap where the tendons meet.
Pressing on this pressure point will help to relieve stress; lower anger, irritability, and ease anxiety; and reduce headaches and menstrual pain.
2. Yong Quan
Find the hollow just under the joint of the big toe.
Move your thumb to the spot between your big toe and second toe.
You will know that you’ve found the pressure point as it’s the spot where the pressure is felt the most.
Pressure on this acupoint will help reduce palpitations; calm anxiety and insomnia; improve poor memory, and decrease night sweats and hot flashes.
3. Da Dun
This pressure point is located on the inner side of your big toe, about an inch from the corner of your toenail.
Applying pressure on this point relieves dizziness, soothes stomach aches, and hernias.
4. Tai Bai
This pressure point is found near the middle of, just to the side of the ball of your foot.
Press on the ball until you reach the area where the pressure is felt the.strongest.
Applying pressure on this point lessens abdominal bloat, eases stomach ache, helps calm the vomiting reflex, and helps stop diarrhea and dysentery.
5. Tai Xi
Locate this major pressure point by pressing on the spot between the Achilles tendon and the top of the inner bony bump of your ankle.
Pressure on the Tai Xi soothes a sore throat and toothaches, helps with toning the kidneys, calms arthritis pain, and reduces bronchitis and asthma flare-ups.
6. Shen Mai
You can find this pressure point on the bony bump on the outside of the ankle.
Massaging this pressure point helps to improve patience, calm anxiety and fear, and bring relief from colds.
7. Qiu Xu
This pressure point is located an inch below the bony bump on the outside of your ankle.
Massaging the Qiu Xu relieves mental stress, stabilizes your mood, and enhances your coping mechanisms.
8. Kun Lun
This pressure point is located in the hollow between the highest point of the bony bump outside of your ankle and your Achilles tendon.
Pressure on the Kun Lun helps with vision problems, lowers blood pressure, eases headaches and elieves lower back pain, and gives relief from symptoms of diarrhea.
9. Xing Jian
This pressure point is found in the skin between the big toe and the second toe.
You will know that you’ve found the correct pressure point where you feel the pressure is strongest.
Applying pressure on the Xing Jian point helps improve vision problems, clear up sinusitis, relax leg muscle cramps, and helps with kidney diseases.
10. Li Nei Ting
The Li Nei Ting is located between the 2nd and 3rd toe on the sole of your foot.
You’ll recognize this pressure point because of the soreness you’ll feel when pressure is applied.
Pressure on the Li Nei Ting relieves food poisoning symptoms and treats Urinary Tract Infections.
It may also help with stroke rehabilitation and constipation.
11. Xia Li
Place your fingers and apply pressure an inch below the skin between the big toe and the second toe.
Pressure on this point helps to relieve diarrhea symptoms.
12. Zu Lin Qi
This pressure point is on the exterior side of your foot.
Run your forefinger from your pinky toe until you are a third of the way along the exterior of your foot and press.
The Zu Lin Qi relaxes muscle cramps; soothes lower back pain; and treats symptoms of apoplexy and psychoneurosis.
13. Gao Ya Xue Dian
The Gao Ya Xue Yuan pressure point is located just above the joint of the big toe.
Apply pressure on this pressure point helps to lower high blood pressure.
14. Di Er Li Dui
The Di Er Li Dui is found on the upper portion of the second toe.
Locate this pressure point by pressing on the spot just under the toenail.
Massaging this area helps to stimulate the appetite, cure the hiccups, and ease nausea.
15. Di San Li Dui
Lastly, there is the Di San Li Dui pressure point. It is similar to the Di Er Li Dui pressure point and is located just underneath the toenail of the middle toe.
Pressure on this point helps to soothe heartburn and excessive burping.
Pressure Points On The Feet To Relieve Pain
The modality of touch therapy is an effective way to relax stiff muscles and relieve pain.
Whether you use reflexology, acupressure, or shiatsu techniques, massaging pressure points is effective at reducing pain and help people suffering from chronic pain to manage it.
Use these particular acupoints on the feet to target various specific pain in the body.
Click here for tips on how to do a fantastic foot massage on yourself or someone else.
Watch this video by Hillary Talbott, doctor of Chinese Medicine, as she demonstrates how to find acupoints on the foot to treat pain and discomfort in various parts of the body.
Make sure that you are relaxed and seated.
It would be ideal to have somebody help you by performing the pressure point massage on you if you cannot comfortably reach your feet.
Work the Tai Chong and Kun Lun acupoints to relieve headaches.
Both pressure points can be found on the top of the foot with the Tai Chong on the tendon between the big toe and the second toe; and the Kun Lun in the hollow between the highest point of the bony bump outside of your ankle and your Achilles tendon.
Press on the Tai Chong acupoint with your thumb for 15 to 30 seconds.
Release and repeat 2 to 3 times.
Apply pressure with your thumb or forefinger on the Kun Lun acupoint for the same amount of time, release then repeat 2 to 3 times.
Do not press an acupoint for more than 2 minutes straight.
Press from 15 to 30 seconds.
Rest and repeat.
Stop if you feel uncomfortable pain.
Soreness is common after pressure is applied but bruising means you are applying too much force.
For Menstrual Pain and Abdominal Cramping
Use the Tai Chong acupoint to ease period pain which regulates your menstruation and relaxes the spasming of your abdominal muscles.
Find the Tai Chong acupoint on the gap in the tendon between your big and second toes.
Firmly press with your thumb for 15 to 30 seconds.
Release and repeat 2 to 3 times.
For Arthritis Pain
The Tai Xi is a major pressure point and helps strengthen the lower back and knees – common areas of the body bothered with arthritis.
Press on the Tai Xi acupoint with your thumb on the spot between the Achilles tendon and the top of the inner bony bump of your ankle.
Firmly press for 15 to 30 seconds.
Release and repeat 2 times.
Please note that massage, acupressure, and reflexology should not be the primary treatment for arthritis but is part of chronic pain management.
It is best that you see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
For Lower Back or Lumbar Pain
Aside from headaches, the Kun Lun acupoint also gives relief to Lumbar pain.
Another acupoint that helps to ease lower back pain is the Zu Lin Qi.
Activate the Kun Lun by pressing the hollow between the highest point of the bony bump outside of your ankle and your Achilles tendon for 15 to 30 seconds, release then repeat 2 to 3 times.
While the Zu Lin Qi is on the exterior side of your foot, a third of the way from your pinky toe.
Press for 15 to 30 seconds, release then do it again 3 times.
For Leg Muscle Cramps
Apply pressure to the Xing Jian and Zun Lin Qi acupoints to relax the muscles in the legs and ease cramping.
Both acupoints loosen the tension in the leg muscles and stop leg cramping.
The Xing Jian is located in the skin between the big toe and the second toe; pinch where the pressure is strongest.
Press on the acupoint for 15 to 30 minutes, relax and repeat 3 times.
With the Zu Lin Qi, located a third of the way from your pinky toe, press for 15 to 30 seconds, release then do it again 3 times.
How To Massage Foot Pressure Points
A foot massaging machine is practical and efficient but nothing beats a massage done the old-fashioned way – with your hands kneading the stress and pain away.
Key ideas to remember are consistency and patience.
Positive results do not always follow after one session.
Regular massage will help manage chronic pain along with your approved medical treatments.
Some standard steps to follow when giving yourself or someone else a foot pressure point massage would be:
- Make time for it. Set a schedule that you can look forward to as your relaxation time.
- Find a comfortable position, either lying down or seated.
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths to bring your body to a relaxed state.
- Use firm, consistent pressure using your fingers or knuckles.
For a more in-depth how-to of massaging your feet, see our related article.
You can also watch this video to learn the location of some of the pressure points that will be used in the list below.
Chinese Foot Pressure Points For Sinus Relief
Xing Jian translates to “temporary” or “in between” and that is where this acupoint is found, in between the skin of the big and second toe.
It helps to clear the sinuses and other symptoms connected to sinusitis like headaches, a bitter taste in the mouth, and ear issues.
You can also try pressing on the tops and on the exterior side of the big toes to help clear nasal passages.
Points On Your Feet For Nausea
The word Li Dui translates to “sick mouth” and the Di Er Li Dui acupoint treats just that.
If you feel nauseated or are experiencing its indications such as excessive hunger, dizziness, and loss of consciousness, apply pressure with your index finger on the upper portion of the second toe.on the spot just under the toenail.
Do this for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
The Tai Chong acupoint also helps calm down nausea symptoms and the dizziness and headaches that accompany it.
Soothe your queasiness by pressing on the gap between the big and second toe for 30 seconds and repeating the firm pressure 2 to 3 times.
Pressure Points For Neck Pain
The Shen Mai acupoint targets the back and its symptoms of neck stiffness and pain.
Ease the stiffness and return mobility to your neck by applying pressure to the bony bump on the outside of the ankle.
Keep the pressure on the acupoint for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.
Pressure Points On The Foot For Back Pain
The Kun Lun acupoint strengthens the back and helps with difficult labor.
The name refers to the Kun Lun Mountains that borders China and Tibet.
This may be a reference to the location of the pressure point, the tip of the bony bump on the ankle.
There is also the Zu Lin Qi acupoint which treats lower back pain.
Its name translates to falling tears.
By applying pressure on the exterior side of your foot–a third of the way from your pinky toe–will ease stress on your back and breast-related issues.
Foot Pressure Points For Headaches & Migraines
The Tai Chong acupoint calms the mind and its accompanying symptoms of dizziness and headaches.
Massage the pressure point between your big and second toe, where the tendon meets for 30 seconds and reapplying firm pressure 2 more times.
The Kun Lun is good for easing the pain in the back of the head and the nape.
Apply firm pressure on the hollow between the highest point of the bony bump outside of your ankle and your Achilles tendon.
Do this for 15 to 30 seconds, pause and repeat 2 more times.
Foot Pressure Points For Sleep
Yong Quan translates to “bubbling spring.”
Applying 30 seconds of on and off pressure for 2 minutes on this acupoint at the bottom of your foot will calm your anxiety, leading you to sleep better.
It’s the spot between your big toe and second toe, almost to the middle of the soles of your feet.
The other acupoint is also found on the soles of the feet.
Trace a line from the sides of your ankle bones down to the bottom of the foot.
The point where the lines meet is the Shimien.
Massage with firm, gentle pressure for 2 minutes.
Pressure Points For A Cough
The acupoint for coughs is near the Tai Xi K13.
It’s called the Zhao Hai K16 pressure point.
Pressing on the Zhao Hai acupoint will help to ease a dry cough and throat.
Put firm pressure on the tip of the bony protrusion on the inner ankle bone for 30 seconds.
Rest and repeat 3 times.
The Tai Xi acupoint, on the other hand, can be used to relieve coughing fits from bronchitis by pressing on the spot between the Achilles tendon and the top of the inner bony bump of your ankle for 15 to 30 seconds, pause and repeat 3 times.
Pressure Points On The Foot To Relieve Stress
This acupoint translates to “mound ruins” and is located an inch below the bony bump on the outside of your ankle.
The Qiu Xu helps to clear the mind of indecision, focus on making difficult decisions, keeps the mood stable, and enhances your coping mechanisms.
Calm your nerves and reduce your stress by pressing an inch below the bone on the outside of your ankle for 2 minutes.
Releasing pressure every 30 seconds and repeating until the 2 minutes are up.
Foot Reflexology Chart
The picture above shows the reflex zones used in Zone Therapy and Reflexology as taught by Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist who trained alongside Dr. Joe Shelby-Riley.
Check out our Hand Reflexology article and learn more about hand reflexology pressure points and massage.
In reflexology, it is important to note that the left and right feet’s pressure points correspond to specific parts of the body.
The general rule says the left foot is associated with the left side of the body and the right foot, the right side.
The heart is located just off the center of the chest to the left so the pressure point to the heart is on the sole of the left foot.
You will find this reflex point under the balls of the two toes next to the pinky toe–the middle toe (third little piggy) and the ring toe (fourth little piggy).
The toes correspond to the head and neck. Any pain or discomfort in those areas can be managed by massaging specific reflex points in the toes.
Going down the sole of the foot, the wide area where the balls of the foot are located are the reflex points for the chest.
There you will find reflex points for the lungs, the solar plexus, the diaphragm, etc.
The arch of the foot can be considered the “waist” and here you’ll find the reflex points for the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, etc.
While in the area of the heel, you will find reflex points for the lower back, the sciatic nerve, and the knees.
Here’s a quick video guide on basic foot reflexology techniques you can use when massaging your foot or someone else’s.
Reflexology vs Acupressure
The reflex zone points work the same as acupressure points.
The difference lies in where the pressure points are found. Reflexology zone points have a reflex map of the body on the feet, the hands, and even the ears.
Placing the feet side by side would create an image of the body (a homunculus) with the big toe representing the head and neck all the way down to the heel which represents the lower back, the descending colon, and the knees.
In contrast, acupressure points in TCM are found all over the body and number 800. These acupoints are spread out over 14 meridian channels that run vertically from the head to the feet.
Watch this video by Carlo Di Paoli, a doctor of Osteopathy, as he explains how pressure points work and how its placement corresponds to different parts of the body. Dr. Di Paoli also clarifies some confusion about the various massage methods – reflexology and acupressure.
What foot pressure points induce labor? Pregnant women are advised not to get acupressure message in the feet because there are several pressure points in the ankles that may induce labor when stimulated. These pressure points include the SP6 or Sanyinjiao located just above the ankle, the BL60 or Kun Lun just below SP6, and the BL67 or Zhi Yin on the side of the pinky toe. Apply firm pressure on these points to help induce labor BUT always check with a doctor first and get a go-ahead just to be on the safe side.
Are foot pressure points scientifically-proven? There is a growing body of research evidence that suggests the effectivity of acupressure point massage in the treatment of nausea, sleep disorders, and pain management, among other things. There is also anecdotal evidence from hundreds of years of practice in the East where acupressure began.
Can massaging pressure points heal you? Massages are only complementary therapies and should not be used as the main form of treatment for curing illnesses. The use of acupressure point massage will help to ease some of the stress and tension brought about by the illness but will not cure it.
Why do pressure points hurt? There are 800 pressure points that lie along any of the 14 meridian lines of the body. Some pressure points lie near or directly in the way of nerve endings and pressing on or near them will send pain signals to the brain. Another reason would be the blockage of qi or congestion of lymph that creates the imbalance and the heavy feeling that persists when you are under the weather. The pain will stop when the blockages and congestions are cleared and the brain has released endorphins.
Who shouldn’t get acupressure point massage? In general, acupressure is safe but there are certain situations where it would not be advisable. Avoid acupressure if you have any swelling in the area that will be treated, wounds and sores are also off limits as well. Chronic heart conditions, pregnancy, and varicose veins may need clearance from a doctor first. Make sure to get your acupressure treatment from a qualified professional to avoid complications.
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Massage Magazine staff. (2008, December 8). What Is The Difference Between An Acupoint And A Trigger Point? Part 2. Retrieved from https://www.massagemag.com/what-is-the-difference-between-an-acupoint-and-a-trigger-point-part-2-3262/
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New Health Advisor staff. (n.d.). 15 Pressure Points on Your Feet (with Pictures). Retrieved from https://www.newhealthadvisor.com/pressure-points-on-feet.html