popular acupuncture point_spleen 4By Sara Calabro

Why Are You Doing That Point? is back by popular demand! It’s been a while. This edition will focus on an acupuncture point on the all-important Spleen channel.

I say all-important because the Spleen does a lot. It plays a critical role in our ability to digest food, which ultimately affects many other processes throughout the body—without nourishment, all systems suffer. In this way, the Spleen has a hand in everything, and Spleen 4 is one of the most commonly used points along the channel.

Spleen 4—also known as Grandfather Grandson (English name), Gongsun (Chinese translation), and SP4 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inside of the foot.

Find it by running your thumb along the edge of the first metatarsal bone. Spleen 4 is about one inch above where the foot juts out, the place where most people get bunions (see photo below and click to enlarge). If you’re in the right spot, you should feel a slight depression at the base of the bone, and the point may be quite sensitive.

Digest this point for bloating

spleen 4 acupressureIf you remember one thing about Spleen 4, remember digestion.

Spleen 4 is said to harmonize the middle jiao, referring to the abdominal region. Therefore, it is a frequent go-to point for abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea, undigested food in the stool, and vomiting.

People who complain of getting no enjoyment out of eating may also receive Spleen 4.

Spleen 4 helps lower stress

So, Spleen 4’s great for digestion in the traditional sense. Because of the Spleen’s relationship to the Heart, it’s also great for the digestion of thoughts and experiences, and calming the spirit.

People who tend to stew on or over think things—a sign of Spleen deficiency—may benefit from Spleen 4. It can help with processing and moving through emotional stressors.

Portland, Oregon-based acupuncturist Cayly Christensen says Spleen 4 is her favorite point for reducing stress.

“Treating the Spleen to reduce excessive rumination and quiet an overly analytical mind can be very useful in easing stress,” says Christensen. “The location of the point, on the inside of the foot, contributes to its stress-lowering quality. It tends to be a sensitive point, which helps bring people out of their heads and into their bodies.”

Further reading: DIY acupuncture points for lowering stress

Self-care exercise for digestion

Feeling bloated? Stressed out? Stomach bothering you? Spleen 4 is an easily accessible point for administering self-acupressure.

  • Find a comfortable seated position.
  • If you can try bending your knees and touching the soles of your feet together. If that’s uncomfortable, get into whatever position gives you easy access to both feet. If you can’t find one, alternate one foot at a time.
  • Using your thumbs, apply firm pressure to Spleen 4 while breathing steadily into your abdomen. Do this for two minutes. (Repeat on the other foot if you’re doing one at a time.)
  • As a maintenance routine, shoot for doing this once in the morning and once before bed. You might experiment with trying out different times of day—for example, before or after meals—to see what’s most effective for you.

Photo by Sara Calabro

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