Acupressure Massage

Acupressure is a massage therapy technique based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that uses finger pressure to mobilize chi — or life force energy — at specific spots on the body called acupressure points, which are also known as acupuncture points or acupoints. These acupressure points are physical locations where chi can be accessed to release blocked or congested energy centers in the body, promoting unobstructed chi flow for health and well-being.

Styles of acupressure

Different styles of acupressure massage therapy rely on varying rhythms, pressure, and techniques. Shiatsu, a Japanese massage therapy form based on ancient Chinese principles, is the most well-known style of acupressure massage training. Literally translated as “finger pressure,” this technique can be quite vigorous in practice, as the therapist applies firm pressure applied to acupressure points. Shiatsu massage therapy programs at schools like the Acupuncture and Massage College typically include comprehensive training in traditional Asian bodywork. Treatment may also combine massage therapy stretching, special breathing techniques, and meditation.

Oftentimes, Shiatsu massage therapy practitioners can detect energy imbalances in the body before any negative health symptoms appear in a patient. Firm pressure, kneading, brisk rubbing and tapping are fundamental techniques incorporated into the curriculum of many massage therapy training schools and programs.

How it works

Acupressure massage therapy stimulates and activates the body’s own healing energies to prevent illness. Acupressure massage therapy practitioners will press on specific points to promote energy flow to a part of the body that is experiencing disease or discomfort, enabling it to heal more quickly.

Acupressure massage therapy training and massage therapy schools cover the two ways acupressure points work in treatment.

  1. Local Points: Acupressure points that target the area of the body where the patient is experiencing pain or tension, which the therapist stimulates to relieve the discomfort.
  2. Trigger Points: Acupressure points out that the therapist stimulates to relieve pain, tension, or other problems in another part of the body, which is sometimes far from the area the practitioner is touching.

Training for massage therapists explores the triggering mechanism of acupoints and how the mechanism works through human energy channels called meridians. The meridians are pathways that connect the acupressure points to each other as well as to internal organs. A comprehensive acupressure massage therapy program at many massage schools, such as the Acupuncture and Massage College, will cover massage training in the meridian system as well as the location of acupressure points.

Used as complementary treatment

Acupressure massage therapy is often used as a complementary treatment along with other health care modalities. It can also be an effective adjunct to chiropractic treatment, which is why many chiropractors also offer massage therapy in their offices. Acupressure massage therapy benefits a wide range of health conditions, including pain, headaches, insomnia, poor circulation, sinus problems, arthritis, shoulder and neck tension. It is also effective in preventative health care maintenance.

To find out more about how massage therapists help patients using acupressure points, and how to pursue a career helping others, 

What are acupressure points?

There are two types of acupressure points:
1) A local point: This is a point of the body near the pain you are experiencing.
2) A trigger point: This is when pain is removed by massaging a point that’s not near the area in pain.

A trigger point can be massaged, and the benefit circulates through a human electrical channel called a meridian to the area in pain. The meridians are distinct channels that connect acupressure points to each other and to the internal organs, circulating electrical energy through the body. This is why the practitioner may massage areas that are not near your areas of pain.

What should you expect during this type of massage?

An acupressure practitioner will use her thumb, knuckle or a finger to apply a firm but gentle pressure to both local and trigger acupoints on certain parts of the body. This pressure lasts from thirty seconds up to two minutes, after which it is slowly eased off. This operation may be repeated three to five times. The area around the point may also be massaged or ‘stretched’. Practitioners apply acupressure massage as you lie fully clothed on a soft massage table, with sessions lasting usually about an hour.

Some people may feel lightheaded for a short while after a session of Acupressure, or even sore at the pressure points, but this soon wears off. A session of Acupressure is not considered to be a painful procedure.

What is acupressure best used for?

  1. Nausea after surgery
  2. Headache relief
  3. Motion sickness
  4. Pregnancy morning sickness
  5. Muscle tension and pain
  6. Menstrual cramping
  7. Cancer fatigue
  8. Nausea from chemotherapy

Overall, Acupressure massage is most beneficial to anyone who is 1) suffering from pain, and 2) looking for a natural form of relief.

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