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Name: Great Surge (Liver 3)

This point is on the top of your foot and helps address fatigue, headaches, insomnia related to “busy mind”, hangovers, eye issues (swelling, pain) and alleviates pain. It’s also helpful in energizing.  Some people feel a “great surge” of energy move from their feet, up their legs and bodies; hence the name.

Location: This point is on the top of your foot, in the “valley” at the point where your big toe and second toe bones meet, above the arch of your foot.  See where the dot is on the photo below.  (If you’re familiar with the Hoku point on the hand, you can think of this as the similar point on your foot.)
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both feet.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders and arms, so experiment with different ways to hold the point, and see what is most comfortable.

You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and bend down to reach the top of your foot with your index or middle finger.  Firmly press on the point with a steady pressure.  Hold first for 10 seconds or so, and then work up to a minute as long as it is comfortable.  As with holding all acupressure points, take deep slow breaths as you hold the point.

I find that it can be easier to hold this point by “sandwiching” it between one finger to top of my foot, and another underneath.  See the photos below where I use my thumb on top in one case; the index finger on top in another.

liver32    liver3 3

Often, this point can be tender; if it is, release the pressure if it is too uncomfortable.  This point, too, can take a lot of pressure, so experiment with different degrees of pressure. 

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

Feeling jittery? Heart palpitations? Certain thyroid conditions can bring about these kinds of symptoms.

There are a bunch of points around your wrist, including one that helps with palpitations. One easy way to get those is to wrap one hand around the wrist of the other hand.

  • A comfortable way to do this is to sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor.
  • Rest one hand on your lap, palm up.
  • With your other hand, wrap your fingers around your wrist so your thumb touches other other fingers lightly. You don’t need to hold tight, but the goal is to have some light contact around your wrist.

As with all acu-point holding, it helps to take slow breaths while you hold the points. I like to close my eyes.

The thing I love about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it’s based on nature and the world, so just about anything in the world can relate back to its principles.

Last week, I went to see (again) my favorite parts of an exhibition by the Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, at the SFMOMA. (Exhibit info here.) I didn’t know of this artist before this exhibition. They are big pieces. Color. Angles. Curves. And all kinds of materials, including water.

In one installment, (called Beauty), you walk into a darkened room where you see light passing through a misty “curtain” of fine water droplets, cascading down from above, onto the absorbing floor. The water drops reflect the light, so it appears like a wall, but really, it’s an illusion. We can walk through that “curtain”.

In another room is Notion Motion.  When we walk on squeaky floor boards in front of a screen, the screen shimmers in different patterns. Depending on the location of the floor board; the amount of squeak. It turns out there’s a shallow water pool on the other side of the screen, and the shimmering is a reflection of the ripples on the water.

Another work which I only peeked into was an ice-sculpture. Actually an ice-covered car. Both times I passed by, my inner-cozy won out over my experience-adventurer.

Anyway, I’m writing about these water-related art objects, because they got me thinking about the Water Element. Since Winter is the season associated with the Water Element, how a propos, I thought, that I was drawn to water in different forms.

The cool thing about water, is its flexibility. It can take so many forms. From fluid liquid water to solid frozen blocks; from refreshing cooling mist to dangerously scalding vapors. In each form, it has a beauty and a power.

So, when our Water Element is in balance, or doing well, flowing, as it were, then our flexibility should be good. Physically, especially along the spine. Mentally and emotionally. Being able to flow with the ebbs and flows that are natural in our daily lives.

By the way, boundaries are also an important aspect of this. Think of it: A river that is healthy is full and flowing within its boundaries. But one that gets out of bounds can wreak all kinds of havoc, as has been experienced in many parts of the world.

To support the Water Element, here are a few wellness ideas:

  • Support your energy. We know how grouchy and inflexible we can be when we’re running on too little sleep. Get enough rest whenever you can.
  • Keep your spine supple. Do some simple stretches.
    • Sit on the edge of a chair, with feet flat on the ground. Stretch your arms up alongside your ears, high overhead, and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, stretch forward and down as low as you can go with a nice stretch along your back. (Only go as far as is comfortable. Don’t strain if you have lower-back pain.)
    • Do some simple twists. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and swing your arms back and forth. Or, sit on the side of a straight-back chair (the back of the chair should be at our side), and raise your arms overhead, with a deep breath in. On the exhale, twist toward the back by placing one hand on either side of the chair back to help you get some leverage. Don’t yank into the twist!
  • Hydrate! Drink water. I hear/read so many conflicting reports/study findings about this. So I just tell people to pay attention. Most of us don’t drink enough. Are your lips dry? Do you get headaches? Is your mouth dry? Is your skin dry? Try increasing your water intake. Replace some other fluids, like coffee/tea/juice/cola, with water.

Reflexology is the art/science of applying pressure to the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. While it is not “officially” part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in the way that acupuncture and acupressure are, reflexology applies pressure–sometimes light, sometimes heavy–so it feels a lot like acupressure.

And it’s a modality I like to use when I’m working with clients, and also to teach students in classes.

I sometimes get asked about those reflexology massage sandals. Some of them are made of wood with little pegs or beads for the “points”, and drawings of the mapping. See this example, which is an actual board. I received a similar one as a gift. It’s good as a reference, but is VERY painful to stand on. Plus the foot size it too big for me.

acu sandal

However, I have found some plastic sandals with little nubs that stimulate the entire sole of my foot. I love these sandals. I notice I breathe deeply when I put them on, and my feet feel great. I must admit the first few times I put them on, they were VERY uncomfortable after even just 10 minutes. It takes a bit of time to break them in.

The pair I got only cost about $15 at a local shop (Soko Hardware in Japantown, 1698 Post St., SF, 415 931-5510), but I was told that they are so popular they are difficult to get. Here they are online.

I found Okabashi, a company that seems to sell a whole line of sandals based on this concept; I don’t know them, but want to offer as a resource, too. If you have used Okabashi sandals, please post a comment to share your experience with them.

I’m especially sensitive about balance — or getting better balance — since I broke my ankle a few months ago.  During my physical therapy classes, it became even more clear to me that I’ve never had good balance.

I twisted my ankle often as a kid.  I sprained it very badly about 7 or 8 years ago; I believe that I never healed completely, and this is why I had such a bad sprain that the force broke off a bit of my bone in October.  My muscles and ligaments are simply weakened.

Last week, I read this excellent article in the New York Times, called Preserving a Fundamental Sense: Balance, which explains how our sense of balance degrades as we age, but more helpfully, it provides a simple test to measure your level of equilibrium, and, best of all, suggests some exercises.

The exercises–to be done in barefeet or stocking feet– in the article (all described in more detail and some with diagrams) include:

  • Sit-to-stand exercise where you sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.  Cross your arms.  Stand up and down as quickly as your can, without uncrossing your arms.  Do three in a row; increase to 10 times.  Do once or twice per day.  Stop if you get dizzy.
  • Walking heel-to-toe, as if you’re walking on a balance beam.  Walk about 10 feet, with the heel of your front foot just in front–almost touching–the toes of your back foot.  Turn back.
  • Walk on your toes.
  • Walk on your heels.
  • Sideways “crab-walking”.  (Please see the article for a good explanation.  This move is easier to do than to explain in words.

I would add the “towel” exercise, I learned in physical therapy.  Roll up a hand-towel, and practice balancing on that with one foot at a time.  First position towel so it is horizontal; just the arch of your foot should rest on it.  Then move it vertical, so that the towel is directly under your foot, with all or most of your foot on the towel.  If you can, raise your arms slowly above your head, by your ears, as you balance on one foot.  You can also try closing your eyes.

The NYTimes says another article will follow with more exercises.

Until then, see you on one leg!

In a recent New York Times article, a woman who was suffering from painfully dry sinuses thought “that’s gross” when recommended the use of a neti pot by her acupuncturist.

“I went out and bought a pretty little ceramic neti pot from Whole Foods,” she said. “I’ve used it every day since. Now, I can breathe again. It’s even gotten rid of the bags under my eyes.”

So, it must be official now.  Because not only are they writing it about it in the New York Times, but it was on Oprah!

Read the full article, titled Short, Stout, Has a Handle on Colds here, and my recent post here.