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October 5, 2010

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Home » Feature » Health and Environment

Rx for white-collar aches and pains

LONG hours in the office, especially sitting in front of a computer, cause myriad problems for white-collar workers, from leg cramps to dizziness. DIY acupressure can help. Zhang Qian hits the spot.

A stiff neck, tight shoulders, sore back, headache and mental fatigue are common problems among office workers, especially those who sit for long hours in front of a computer and don't move around much.

Apart from taking regular breaks and stretching every hour or two, acupressure - massage on acupuncture points - can help relieve symptoms.

"It doesn't take much time and massage is simple and effective," says Dr Jiang Zaifeng in the acupuncture and tuina (Chinese massage) department of Liangcheng Community Hospital.

Traditional Chinese medicine holds that most problems linked to long hours of office work are caused by problems with circulation of blood and the smooth flow of qi (energy).

Pressing hard on acupuncture points and rubbing with fingers is the usual DIY massage method; moderate pounding or "knocking" with the fist may also help.

Here are some common problems and acupressure points to relieve them


Poor blood circulation from sitting too long and bending the neck and shoulders can cause headaches. Pressing the he gu on the hand can help relieve the pain.

How: Find the he gu with the thumb, press it against the second metacarpal bone. The pressure should cause a bit of discomfort.

He gu

Location: The crater for junction between thumb and forefinger.

Benefits: Helps relieve headache by regulating qi. It also eases painful menstruation, pain in the teeth and jaw, relieves allergies, colds, acne and eye problems.

Tight shoulders

Sitting with poor, slumped posture and not moving around can cause shoulder discomfort.

Pressing the jian jing point can help.

How: Using the middle finger and slowly rotating the shoulder joint at the same time is the best method. Pressure should cause a little soreness.

Jian jing

Location: Between the root of back neck and shoulder.

Benefits: Helps relieve shoulder pain and headache.

Menstrual cramps

Painful menstruation can reduce work efficiency. Pressing the xue hai point near the knee can help relieve pain.

How: Firmly press the xue hai point with both thumbs. Pressing through a hot water bottle is more effective.

Xue hai

Location: On the medial thigh, with the knee in flexion, 2 finger's breadth superior to the superomedial angle of the patella, on vastus medialis muscle.

Benefits: Helps relieve gynecological issues related with blood stasis or deficiency, such as painful or irregular menstruation.

Sore lower back

Lower back strain is a common problem caused by sitting too long in the same, and wrong position.

Massaging the wei zhong on the leg can help relieve discomfort.

How: Sit on a chair, bending the knees. Press the wei zhong point with the thumb while slowly bending and stretching the leg.

Wei zhong

Location: At the midpoint of the popliteal fossa. Midpoint of the transverse crease of the popliteal fossa, between the tendons of biceps femoris and semitendinosis.

Benefits: Helps relieve acute lower back pain, sprain and muscle spasms - plus heatstroke and itchy skin.

Mental fatigue

Sitting for prolonged periods not only causes physical discomfort but also can cause mental fatigue, dizziness and lower efficiency. Stagnating blood is the cause.

Pounding or knocking the zu san li below the knee can help.

How: Take a deep breath, pound the spot and exhale slowly while doing so. Repeat 10 times.

Zu san li

Location: One finger's breadth lateral to the tibia's anterior crest, 3 fingers' breadth inferior to knee.

Benefits: Helps clear and refresh the mind by reinforcing deficient qi and blood, especially in the stomach. It helps with many digestive problems, eases lower leg pain and supports the lungs to help with asthma and wheezing.

Anxiety, nervousness

The lao gong point in the hand helps regulate the nerves, relieving nervousness and anxiety.

How: Press lao gong with the thumb; pressure should cause slight discomfort.

Lao gong

Location: At the center of the palm between the second and third metacarpal bones closer to the radial side of the 3rd, where the tip of the middle finger falls when a loose fist is made.

Benefits: Helps soothe nerves, relieves problems related to pathogenic heat, such as heatstroke and nosebleeds.


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