Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure to certain points in the body to create health or heal specific ailments. It works the same way that acupuncture works. However, with acupressure, the pressure is applied through pressing the points with the fingers or elbows.
It was founded on the traditional Chinese belief in Qi (pronounced chi). Qi is the natural energy that flows through all living things. Acupressure massage therapy is used to continue the proper flow of Qi and prevent illnesses. Once the proper flow of Qi is restored, the patient is cured of most ailments.
In acupressure, local symptoms are considered an expression of the condition of the body as a whole. A tension headache, for instance, may be rooted in the shoulder and neck area. Thus acupressure focuses on relieving pain and discomfort as well as on responding to tension before it develops into a “disease” that is, before the constrictions and imbalances can do further damage.
The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply. By relieving stress, acupressure strengthens resistance to disease and promotes wellness.
Many of the health problems in our society – from bad backs to arthritis – are the result of living unnaturally. Stress, tension, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and poor posture contribute to the epidemic of degenerative diseases in our culture. Acupressure is one way to help your body fight back and balance itself in the face of the pressures of modern life.
Acupressure has been around for thousands of years. A 5,000-year-old mummy found preserved in an alpine glacier wore tattoos bearing meridian points on him, showing early signs of acupressure in Europe, although acupressure is most commonly used throughout Asian countries. It is used in China, Japan, India, and Korea.
In early war times, warriors found that long standing ailments they had often vanished after being pierced by arrows or other piercing objects. A link was made to the meridians and the first forms of acupuncture involved being pierced with arrow tips, bones, stones, and eventually needles made from copper, silver and gold.
The earliest text written on pressure points is known as the “Nei Ching” or “The Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” It was believed to have been written between 2,697 and 2,596 B.C. It is an extremely detailed text that has been used for thousands of years as the foundation of acupuncture and acupressure; it is the oldest known medical document written.
Chinese medicine was introduced to the western world through a specialist in Chinese culture from France. The texts on acupressure were converted into French in 1928, thus introducing Chinese medicine to the western world. Acupressure is the third most commonly used medical technique and practice used in the world today.
Acupressure and acupuncture work based on the idea that the life force in nature–known as Chi–runs through pathways in the body called meridians. When these become blocked, illness will begin to manifest. This affects both the mind and body. Restoring harmony requires making sure that a healthy and balanced stream of energy is circulating throughout the body again.
Acupressure is the process of pressing points in the body that will balance and unblock the flow of chi through the meridians. Acupressure has the additional benefits of circulating blood and oxygen through the muscles through massage.
Acupressure is used as a complimentary therapy for treating a variety of disorders. These include asthma, arthritis, menstrual problems, sinusitis, depression, post operative recovery, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and hypertension. It stimulates a healthy digestive function, heals the immune system, improves circulation, soothes chronic pain, and improves energy levels and concentration. It works to set the whole body in balance so that it works to function better as a whole. Regular treatments result in an improvement in overall physical and mental health.
Massage on it’s own also provides many benefits. It lowers blood pressure, improves concentration and circulation through the body, reduces anxiety and hypertension, assists in the recovery from injury or surgery, and improves overall health and energy levels. Combining the art of acupressure with massage is a popular way to improve health and heal many disorders and complaints.
Reflexology is a form of bodywork that focuses primarily on the feet.
Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy. It promotes relaxation, improves circulation, reduces pain, soothes tired feet, and encourages overall healing. The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are “reflex” areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. For example:
- the tips of the toes reflect the head
- the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot
- the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot
- low back and intestines are towards the heel
Practitioners believe that applying pressure to these reflex areas can promote health in the corresponding organs through energetic pathways.
What will I feel?
Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. They may even feel sleepy. Some areas may be tender or sore, and the therapist may spend extra time on these points. The soreness should decrease with pressure.
Occasionally, people feel nauseous, anxious, or tearful, but this is only temporary and is considered to be part of the healing process.
If you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor first and let the therapist know. If you have foot ulcers, injury, or blood vessel disease such as blood clots, consult your doctor before having reflexology.