From work to family, friends, obligations and society, pressure can be found in all areas of your life. But, not all pressure has to stress you out or weigh you down emotionally. One pressure in particular, acupressure, actually is believed to do the exact opposite. With origins from traditional Chinese medicine, this type of bodywork therapy is most commonly used to release tension and restore energy balance from within the body.
“Acupressure can help relieve pressure in all realms of the body – from emotional to physical and spiritual,” explains Laundra Andoh, massage therapist at Elements Massage. “I enjoy incorporating acupressure into my massage sessions because I see the effectiveness of it. It’s always so neat to see how the body responds to certain pressure points – almost instantaneously sometimes.”
Acupressure Aligns Meridian Pathways throughout the Body
The underlying theory associated with acupressure is that your body is made up of meridians that provide pathways for energy to flow through. It is believed that energy is the body’s vital life force, most commonly referred to as chi. When a meridian becomes blocked, acupressure can be used to restore balance in the body, prevent illness and relieve pain. By using gentle, but firm, finger pressure, along certain acupressure points, therapists can release the blocked energy within the meridian, promoting energy flow to certain areas of the body. Stimulating these points also can increase the flow of blood and oxygen, as well as trigger the release of endorphins to relieve pain in certain problem areas of the body. The combination of all these reactions can ultimately cause the muscles to relax, which in turn promotes ultimate healing.
“When clients hear about acupressure, they’re a little curious about it because they’ve probably heard about acupuncture, but may not know so much about the other,” explains Andoh. “I’ll help introduce acupressure to people by explaining that acupuncture uses needles to pinpoint certain areas on the body, while acupressure does not. With acupressure, you can press on a particular acupressure point to help relieve pain and pressure like headaches and sinus congestion.”
Common Pressure Points May Help Relieve Common Conditions
Integrating massage and acupressure therapy has been found to not only relieve tension and increase blood circulation, but it also can help strengthen the body’s resistance to disease and aid in healing common mental and physical conditions. Andoh has seen acupressure help reduce pain or trauma in clients, relieve backaches and headaches, and even help with insomnia or chronic fatigue. While there are literally hundreds of pressure points that acupressure professionals can focus on, the most common ones that Andoh suggests include:
- The Large Intestine 4 (L14), located in the soft, fleshy web between the thumb and forefinger, can be effective for alleviating headaches and pain.
- The Liver 3 (LR3), located in the soft flesh that sits in-between the big toe and second toes, is similar to the L14.
- The Spleen 6 (SP6), located about three finger’s width above the inner ankle bone, is a tender area of the lower calf muscle.
Acupressure Precautions are Few, But Still Important
In most cases, acupressure is a safe bodywork modality that has done wonders for many people. But, before you seek acupressure therapy, it’s important to find a practitioner who is licensed and certified, says Andoh. If you have a concern with cancer, arthritis, heart disease or any other chronic condition, it’s always recommended that you consult a doctor before trying any therapy that involves joint or muscle movement. Andoh also suggests that people who are pregnant, have varicose veins, arthritis, spinal injuries or bone disease should use caution when seeking acupressure due to possible complications with these types of conditions.
For the majority of people, acupressure can be an effective bodywork approach to promote overall relaxation and rejuvenation for your mind, body and spirit. If you haven’t tried acupressure before, Andoh suggests giving it a try in your next massage therapy session.
“Everyone’s body is different, so as a therapist I have to listen to what the muscles are saying and create a treatment plan that addresses each person’s specific elements,” shares Andoh. “I think people shouldn’t be afraid to try modalities that may be new or unusual or seems too good to be true. I like to encourage people to try new approaches like acupressure.”