Exploring Massage Therapy: Acupressure (Part I)

Acupressure is an intriguing modality of massage therapy as its methods and potential benefits are extremely expansive. It’s also hard to get a precise definition of what acupressure actually is, which is what we will try to do in today’s blog post.

Simply put, acupressure is the placement of pressure on pressure points of the body. The points a therapist focuses on when applying acupressure are the same used by acupuncturists, but instead of using a needle, therapists usually use their fingers, pressing with gentle to firm pressure. Acupressure thus has its roots in acupuncture, which originated in China and then spread to other areas of Asia, like Japan and Vietnam.

Much like with massage therapists who work with trigger points, proponents of acupressure claim that the appropriate use of acupressure can alleviate many health problems (and to some extent they’ve been proved correct – see next week’s entry!). In this way acupressure can be holistic, with appropriate application helping to release muscular tension, increase circulation and create general feelings of relaxation. From a holistic perspective, acupressure complements and relates well to other energy-work therapies and philosophies, like Reiki treatment and Qigong.

But acupressure can also be used for specific areas and symptoms, such as back pain. Indeed, by focusing on certain areas of the body and those areas’ pressure points, acupressure relates to, and can be used to complement, chiropractic therapy.

Acupressure can be administered by a trained professional, or through self-care, with people applying pressure to their own acupressure points with their fingers or by using simple household objects (like a tennis ball) to apply pressure to areas that can’t be reached directly (like the back).

The AMTA has listings of acupressure training classes (for example, click here) and if anyone has specific resources they’d like to share about acupressure, please do so in the comments section. Next week we’ll look at clinical research that has demonstrated acupressure’s effectiveness in dealing with certain health problems.

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