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Carrington College Blog

3 Pressure Points to Help Relieve Stress

December 23, 2015

Do the holidays have you stressed out? We’ve got your back! Check out these three tips to help melt the pressure away.

By Courtney Payton, Carrington College Physical Therapy Programs National Dean

Credit: Maridav/Shutterstock

It’s the time of year when we all feel a little bit more stress. You’ve got family visiting, shopping to finish (or start), gifts to wrap and food to cook. That’s on top of the normal life things like managing your budget, work, taking care of your family and your home, going to school and keeping up with homework and a gazillion other things. Let’s face it, we could all use a little help relaxing this time of year.

Lucky for you…that’s my area of expertise! I’m the National Dean for the Physical Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapy Technology programs at Carrington College. I’ve been with Carrington since 2010 and love sharing what I know about massage and physical therapy.

So here’s how you can help yourself if you’re feeling extra stress. You’ve probably heard of pressure points, right? Pressure points or knots are also known as trigger points. They’re super sensitive, or hyperirritable, spots in your muscles that cause pain and loss of motion. These points are found in any muscle in the body and can send pain to other areas. When you massage or hold these points, it can create more circulation which helps with decreasing pain and increasing mobility.

There are a bunch of techniques that can relieve the pain and tension these points can cause. Here are my three favorites.

  • Gently touch the point with your fingertips, thumb or palm and apply enough pressure so you can feel the pain but it doesn’t “hurt.” Hold it for 10-15 seconds.
  • Stretching is great. Hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds. Don’t bounce or relax the stretch, that way the muscle has time to respond.
  • Ice packs can help too. They can get rid of pain and pressure associated with knots. Make sure there’s at least one layer between the skin and the pack, and only ice it for 15 minutes at a time.
Credit: Nenad Aksic/Shutterstock

Taking time to do some light stretching and self-massage can not only help get rid of pain, it can help you from hurting in the first place! What’s the first thing a cat or a baby does when they wake up? They stretch! It’s our body’s natural way to fight off tension, so give it a shot!