Shiatsu | Chinese medicine

Simple grounding tip to help with anxiety

(Only English version available)

This month my good friend Sam Ho has written a post about the ‘famous’ acupuncture point Kidney – 1. Sam Ho is an acupuncturist and massage therapist from Australia, living in London at the moment. If you have any questions or feedback, please email me at Enjoy reading:-)

Feeling Anxious?
Did you know uncertainty has actually been linked to feelings of anxiety?2020 is proving to be a tough year and we are all feeling it. Working from home, lock downs or just the general stress of uncertainty are all likely to be having an impact on your mental health & anxiety.

Here is an exercise you can do anywhere (even during your zoom calls!).  Let me introduce you to a very special acupoint, Kidney-1. Before we start telling you about it from a clinical Eastern medicine perspective, let’s talk about a simple exercise you can do right now.

The Exercise
Firstly, Kidney-1 is located on the sole of your foot. An interesting fact, it’s the only acupuncture point on the sole of your foot*!  So how do you find it? 

How To Find it:

  • Mentally divide the sole of your foot into thirds (lengthways from your heel to your toes).
  • Place your finger in the centre of the sole of your foot.
  • Now slide your finger towards your toes until you reach a bit of a depression or dip (where your toe mound starts).  Or more technically, at the border of the top third of your foot where it intersects with an imaginary line coming down from between your 2nd & 3rd  toes.
  • As with most acupoints, it may be a bit tender when pressed, which is how you know you’ve found the spot.

– It’s probably easiest to use your thumb to press and massage the point.  I recommend also massaging in a circular direction – clockwise (with the clock).  *the direction of the circles is actually important in Eastern medicine.  Comment and let me know if you’d like to know more about this in another post.
– Repeat on the other foot.

If you have been working from home or just spending a lot of time sitting, then you can benefit from massaging  Kidney-1 in a seated figure 4 position.

  • Sit on your chair with both feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Keep your back as upright and neutral as is comfortable.
  • Place the ankle of your left foot on top of right knee/thigh.
  • Now massage the Kidney-1 acupoint on the sole of your left foot.
  • Repeat on the other side.

The seated figure 4 is a modified yoga position and you should feel a stretch of your piriformis and glute muscles, which get tight after sitting for long periods.

How it works
For those wanting to know a bit more about this special point, you can keep on reading.

As mentioned earlier, Kidney-1 is the only acupuncture point located on the sole of your foot, meaning it’s physically the lowest acupuncture point on your body and massaging this point has the effect of grounding, or bringing your energy down.  

I regularly have massage clients coming in for anxiety or stress and I will begin and end the treatment by massaging the Kidney-1 point in a firm, slow, circular motion.  It also serves to mentally bring your attention to your feet, as people are often “stuck in their head” when dealing with anxiety or experiencing a stressful time.  Reinforcing the grounding effect of this point.

There are several fundamental theories in Eastern medicine, one of which is the 5 element theory. In 5 element theory emotions are associated with specific organ systems. Fear is associated with the Kidneys. It can be of interest to note that anxiety wasn’t a term used in ancient eastern medicine texts.  Although anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD etc are commonly accepted to be associated with fear in the context of the 5 element theory.  Anxiety may also be connected to the emotion of worry, which is associated to the Spleen. But before it gets too complicated, just know anxiety is related to the emotional state of fear – not fully, but they are connected. 

The Kidneys are also linked to your Lungs and in Eastern medicine and it’s said that the Kidneys “grasp” the Qi from the Lungs, but what does that actually mean?   In a nutshell, the Kidney system is important in breathing and if it doesn’t “grasp” or “root” the Qi you will experience general shallow breathing, something common in people with anxiety2. So I encourage you to take a few slow deep breaths while massaging your Kidney-1 points.

Remember to massage the point on both feet!

Now we aren’t saying that massaging Kidney-1 will cure your anxiety, but it is both beneficial and accessible – something you can do easily at home.  We can incorporate Kidney-1 into any shiatsu or massage session along with several other points and meridians useful in treating anxiety.  We can create an overall calming and grounding session for you.

Email, call or app to book a session and talk more about your anxiety and how shiatsu and massage can help!

Did you know, the Kidney-1 acupoint is useful in treating plantar fasciitis. You can stand on a tennis ball to massage the point and the plantar fascia ligament along the sole of your foot.

* Whilst it is the only point on the sole of the foot in Acupuncture; Shiatsu actually has several points on the sole of the foot. Comment and let me know if you are interested in learning more about the differences between Acupuncture & Shiatsu.


Uncertainty about a possible future threat disrupts our ability to avoid it or to mitigate its negative impact, and thus results in anxiety.


If you’ve never spoken with a doctor before, it’s always a good idea to check your heart and lungs. But you’ll find that shallow breathing is in almost all cases caused by anxiety. It’s one of the most common – and most problematic – anxiety issues.