What is Acupressure?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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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.


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Post 7

I had back pain for the past years. Has anyone else tried the Bed of Nails? It is an acupressure mat. It has help relieve my back pain the past year.

Post 6

Can you use acupressure on animals as well as humans? I know that some people have successfully used acupuncture on dogs, cats and horses, and would think acupressure would work the same way.

There are many Chinese traditions and herbal formulas that have been very effective for many people.

Sometimes it is hard to understand how balancing the energy in your body can make you feel so much better, but I would be willing to try it.

If it didn't work, then I would know that I had tried it and wouldn't have to always wonder if it would help or not.

Post 5

The first time I inquired about acupressure was for headaches. I have a history of headaches and have tried to find some natural ways to deal with them instead of taking a medication for them.

At my first acupressure session I was kind of embarrassed though, because I had no idea of the type of emotions that would be released.

I couldn't hold them back, and started crying. The lady who was working on me was very kind and said this was something that was very common and not to be embarrassed by it.

This was the only time it happened to me, but I really did feel a big release from the whole session. Once in awhile when I am having a really stressful day, I will still have to take something for my headaches.

The acupressure has made a difference though and I don't have to rely on medication nearly as often as I used to.

Post 4

My massage therapist uses acupressure as part of her massage treatments. She uses therapeutic massage which is different than just getting a relaxing body massage.

After I have a massage from her, I have so much more energy and actually feel lighter. I don't know how much of that is from the acupressure, from the massage techniques or a combination of both.

I do know that I feel so much better and have recommended therapeutic massages to many of my friends.

Post 3

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I actually think acupressure is a waste of time and money. There's no clinical proof that it works, as far as I know. From what I understand, a lot of people use it as an "add-on" to make more money. I've heard of herbalists, massage therapists, and fancy salons all offering acupressure services to cure "whatever ails you."

A friend of mine went to an herbalist that did acupressure (migraine pain was her problem) and she told me that it didn't help one bit! But she still ended up paying for it out of her own pocket, since most insurance companies don't cover this "therapy."

Post 2

@ceilingcat - I bet these days you could probably find an acupressure chart online for free too. You probably wouldn't even need to purchase a book or anything else to do acupressure on yourself or a family member.

I've actually had acupressure done by an herbalist, and I think it definitely works. You can even kind of feel it when they rub an acupressure point versus when you just rub any random spot on your own body. It definitely kind of tingles when they hit the right spot.

Post 1

One thing a lot of people don't realize is that you don't really need any specialized skills to do acupressure. You can even do it acupressure therapy on yourself at home!

When my sister and I were little, my mom had this acupressure book that she would consult whenever we weren't feeling well. She would use the book to figure out the appropriate acupressure point for whatever was ailing us, and then she would simply rub it.

It worked pretty well, and we didn't even have to leave the house or pay anyone to do an acupressure session for us!

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