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Acupressure is a form of bodywork in which pressure is applied to certain points of the body to release tension so the body can function appropriately. This type of massage therapy also aids in relieving pain issues impeding normal movement. Acupressure techniques can vary from the tools utilized to the type of pressure applied.
Acupressure techniques focus on specific points called "acupoints" or pressure points. These spots are thought to be located along meridians of pathways running through the body that regulate the flow of chi, the life flow of the body. When these points become irritated, they can become tight and tender. This tension can make the flow of chi, or energy, sluggish or stalled. Acupressure techniques release the blocks and restore normal body functioning.
The most common acupressure technique is the application of steady direct pressure to these constricted knot-like spots. This can be accomplished manually using the pad of the thumb, a knuckle or the elbow. Pressure is applied slowly until there is an increase in tightness in the area and some pain is experienced. Force is maintained until the spot gives way and loosens. This acupressure technique is repeated several times until the acupoint releases tension. Direct pressure acupressure can also be applied by small objects such as a pencil eraser or specialized hand-held massage tools like a T-bar that has a rubberized tip to deliver pressure techniques accurately and comfortably.
Another acupressure technique involves applying a shifting pushing force to the small tender areas. Once the knot is felt, a slow downward pressure is used until the area tightens. Once the reactive tension can be felt, pressure is maintained but moved over the area in small circular or side-to-side motions. An increase in moving force is applied as the knot loosens until the acupoint dissolves.
The use of acupressure techniques can be an effective means to decrease pain and tightness issues when the use of medications is ineffective or not advised. During pregnancy and through delivery, for example, the use of acupressure may aid in relieving common aches and pain. It is also believed the realigning of the chi makes the birthing process easier. Clearance from a physician is recommended before attempting pregnancy acupressure.
The application of acupressure techniques can be somewhat painful. Additional tenderness and redness or bruising of the area may also occur. General soothing massage techniques such as palm pressure strokes with moderate force to the general area may help decrease the body’s response of tightening from direct deep pressure.
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