Meridians - Measuring them in thumb widths

If you are keen on using acupressure points and have been researching them, you will notice that very often, to find meridian points, the body distances are measured in CUN – pronounced ‘soon’ and sometimes referred to as a CHINESE INCH or even ‘pounce’.

Cun were first noted in the work of a famous Chinese Physician (Sn Su Mo) c. AD600 who recognised that patients come in all different shapes and sizes and to use a standard measurement was not logical


It’s a very accurate way of honouring the person’s individual anatomy by basically measuring in THUMB WIDTHS – so, one thumb width on a child is going to be very different to a thumb width on a middle-aged woman or a muscular 6’4” tall man! So, the genius of it is that you will be using their own unique inbuilt measurement system.


For example, a classic measurement is 8cun between the nipples – you can imagine how that much varies between a child and an adult, or man and woman, as does the 8cun length of each collar bone.


While we are not acupuncturists, nevertheless we do need guidance when finding the ‘general’ location of points we wish to work with and what could be simpler than a THUMB WIDTH.



It’s also important to bear in mind that the original cun measurements refer to Asian bodies from several hundred years ago. We in the West and in the 21stCentury have a larger body build. So, don’t rely on them as a precise took, instead use them as an effective ‘guide’ to find the approximate location on the body and then like all good acupuncturists, close your eyes and ‘feel for the dip’ – nearly all the points, especially the master points, have less electrical resistance on the skin so you can literally ‘sink’ into them. Trust your instinct.


So, whenever you see a measurement in ‘cun’ simply think:

1 cun = 1 body thumb width

(of the person being measured)

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