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.
- 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.
- Trigger Points: Acupressure points 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 at 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.