How to Activate an Acupressure Point

The Short Answer: The best way to stimulate an acupoint is to apply pressure at the point with 1-4 fingers in a way that feels good to you AND the animal. Watch short videos of animal acupressure at the top of our homepage:

The Long Answer: The easiest way to stimulate an acupoint is to apply pressure with the soft pads of your fingers, not the fingertips. One common technique is to cover the acupressure point with the pad of your index finger, then lay the middle finger over the index finger, and press slowly and gently into the point with both fingers. This method works well in the vast majority of applications. Here are some additional variations you can try.

1: Press with only one finger: In some small and delicate zones, animals prefer to receive touch from only one finger, often the index finger. I often use this technique with feather light pressure near the eyes, on very small animals, or on small regions of the body.

2: Press with multiple fingers: Some points are large and respond well to pressure with multiple fingers. For example, ST 36, a popular point on the animal’s lower thigh/gaskin has an oblong “field of influence” that I often stimulate with light pressure and up to four fingertips simultaneously, depending on the size of the animal. Using multiple fingers also seems to work well on points that can receive more pressure, like those on large muscle groups. Bai Hui (aka Yao Bai Hui, or Lumbar Bai Hui) is a good example. On horses this point can be up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter and often responds very well with full pressure from four fingers.

3: Press with your thumb: Thumb pressure works well when working down the back of your animal, along the spine. Just be sure that your thumb feels entirely comfortable so you don’t strain it!

4: Press with your hand: You can also use other parts of your hand for a broad and less intense pressure. For example, you can place a palm over a sensitive point when your animal does not tolerate fingertip pressure.

5: Press with your elbow: Elbow pressure is yet another variation used by acupressure practitioners but it is easy to apply overly strong pressure to a point. It is best to learn the other techniques first and progress to elbow pressure only when the initial techniques are mastered.

5: Stimulate the point with a tool: People with limited strength or arthritic pain in their hands, may find it easier to apply pressure with a tool instead of their fingers. There are many massage and acupressure tools on the market that can fit the bill. Just be sure that, like with the elbow technique, you do not press in too quickly or with too much pressure. Some trained practitioners may also use tools like electrical stimulation or magnets to stimulate points.

The final rule and the only one that really matters: Follow your animal’s response! If your animal is enjoying your acupressure and it feels good to you too, you are most likely doing just the right thing!

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