By Sara Calabro
The “Why Are You Doing That Point?” series is back, this time with an easily accessible and broadly useful acupuncture point on the lower leg.
Gall Bladder 34—also known as Yanglingquan (Chinese name), Yang Mound Spring (English translation) and GB34 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located just below the knee on the lateral (pinkie toe) side of the leg (see picture below).
You can find this point by running your finger up the outside of your leg until you hit a bony prominence. That’s the head of your fibula bone, and Gall Bladder 34 is located just slightly in front of and below where the bone juts out.
You can press this point yourself to alleviate stiff muscles, tightness along the side of the body, and to assist your Liver Qi in chilling out. Here’s why acupuncturists so often reach for Gall Bladder 34.
Ease stiff muscles and joints
Classical Chinese medical texts refer to Gall Bladder 34 as the most important point for treating “the sinews.” Sinews are tough tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, that connect muscle to bone and bone to bone.
This acupuncture point, because of its location, is especially common in treating stiff muscles and joints in the lower body. Acupuncture treatments for knee pain, calf pain and foot pain are likely to incorporate this point. Runners who experience Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and/or shin splints also will see Gall Bladder 34 show up in their treatments.
Gall Bladder 34’s sinew-rejuvenating mechanism is not limited to the legs and feet, however. It also works for addressing stiff neck and shoulders as well as muscular and joint issues in the arms and hands. Acupuncture treatments for tennis and golfer’s elbow, for example, commonly include Gall Bladder 34.
Does the side of your body hurt?
Another primary use for Gall Bladder 34 is pain or a sense of fullness on the side of the body, especially around the chest and rib area. Here’s why:
All meridians have what’s known as a he-sea point, a point located near the knee or elbow. He-sea points are points of connection, where the more distal parts of the body (the extremities) start to merge with the inner core (the trunk and organs).
Gall Bladder 34 is the he-sea point of the Gall Bladder meridian, which runs along the side of the body. This means that Gall Bladder 34, more than other points on the Gall Bladder meridian, has a direct effect on the middle body along the channel. This generally means the side of the body around the ribs.
Your Liver qi loves Gall Bladder 34
Since Gall Bladder 34 resolves tension and tightness along the side of the upper body, it’s a frequent go-to in treatments for an extremely common pattern among stressed-out Westerners—Liver Qi Stagnation.
Liver is the system that’s responsible for smooth flow throughout the body. As such, it’s the system most directly affected by things that cause us to tense up—emotional stress, rigid posture, not breathing deeply enough, jaw clenching, etc. When things aren’t flowing smoothly, we start to experience what acupuncturists think of as stagnation-type symptoms.
Stagnation-type symptoms include pain, and specifically pain that feels like pressure, distension or restriction. Among others, including frustration and irritability, a signature characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation is a feeling of pressure or “stuckness” on the sides of the upper body.
In acupuncture, each organ system is paired with another, and Liver’s paired system is Gall Bladder. This means that acupuncture points on the Gall Bladder channel can directly impact Liver-related issues. So, Gall Bladder 34—because of its relationship to Liver, its location, and its designation as a he-sea point—is commonly included in treatments for Liver Qi Stagnation.
Given how widespread Liver Qi Stagnation is today, Gall Bladder 34 is a great acupressure point to have in your self-care tool box, to use in between acupuncture treatments.
Next on “Why Are You Doing That Point?” is Kidney 1. Read it now.
Photo by Sara Calabro; GB 34 infographic from A Manual of Acupuncture
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