Acupressure is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which relies on applying pressure to certain points of the body to relieve the symptoms of various complaints. It is also a form of bodywork; many massage therapists integrate acupressure into their repertoires to better serve their clients. An acupressure session typically leaves the client feeling energized, and hopefully less stressed as well. When performed by a competent professional, acupressure can also relieve an assortment of symptoms.
TCM relies on a number of basic principles which have been refined over thousands of years of medical practice. One of the major principles of this medical tradition is the idea that health is governed by the flow of life force, or qi, through the body. Interruptions in this flow can lead to medical complaints, as the body's balance of energy is disrupted. TCM practitioners also believe that disruptions in the flow of qi affect specific organs, and that all symptoms can be linked with a particular organ.
As qi flows through the body, it follows an assortment of meridians, or major pathways through the body. Each meridian carries qi in different ways to different organs, so when an acupressure practitioner diagnoses a problem, he or she knows which meridian is affected. The meridians of the body are broken up into a series of specific pressure points which are used to treat particular symptoms. These points are found by locating the meridian and using landmarks such as specific body parts.
In an acupressure session, the client usually lies draped on a table. Some practitioners work with clothed clients, with others may ask clients to undress. Undressing is more common when the session is blended with Western massage techniques, and no massage therapist will push a client past his or her comfort level. The practitioner talks with the client about the problems he or she is experiencing, and the practitioner usually takes a few quick passes over the body to familiarize him or herself with the client.
Using varying degrees of pressure, the practitioner treats the relevant acupressure points on the body. Hands, elbows, and even tools may be used to apply pressure, depending on the needs of the client and the preferences of the practitioner. As the practitioner works, the flow of qi in the patient's body should even out, relieving the symptoms which he or she has complained about. The session can also be very energizing, and sometimes cathartic as well, as the patient experiences a flood of emotion.