Acupressure is an ancient art of healing believed by some people to be
even older than acupuncture. It involves the use of the fingers (and in
some cases, the toes) to press key points on the surface of the skin to
stimulate the body's natural ability to heal itself. Pressing on these
points relieves muscle tension, which promotes the circulation of blood
and qi to aid in the healing process.
What's the difference between acupressure and acupuncture?
Acupressure and acupuncture are actually quite alike. In fact, acupressure
is sometimes referred to as "needleless acupuncture," because
both forms of healing use the same points to achieve the desired results.
The main difference between the professions is that an acupuncturist stimulates
points by inserting needles, whereas an acupressurist stimulates the same
points using finger pressure.
How does acupressure work?
Like acupuncture, acupressure involves the stimulation of certain points
on the body. Stimulating these points can trigger the release of endorphins,
chemicals produced by the body that relieve pain. When endorphins are
released, the pain is blocked, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the
affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes
In acupressure, as with most traditional Chinese medicine concepts, local
symptoms are considered an expression of the whole bodys condition.
A person with a tension headache, for instance, may actually be suffering
from pain or stress in the shoulder and neck. An acupressurist would focus
not only on relieving pain and discomfort, but removing the source of
that pain and discomfort, before it develops into a more serious condition.
Besides relieving pain, acupressure can help rebalance the body by lowering
stress and tension levels and strengthening the immune system. Certain
acupressure points can also relieve tension in the chest, enabling people
to breathe more deeply and sleep better, and there has been anecdotal
evidence that acupressure can help pregnant women have a quicker, less
Advantages and Limits of Acupressure
Acupressure has several advantages over most other forms of healing:
- It is extremely cost-effective. No special equipment is required;
the only items a person needs to perform acupressure effectively are
their own fingers and/or toes.
- It can be performed anywhere, at any time. A person doesn't need to
practice in a particular setting or a particular time of the day to
experience its effects.
- It can be performed alone. Self-acupressure has been performed in
Asia for thousands of years. In the United States, many people can learn
acupressure from an experienced practitioner or health care provider.
In addition, there are a wide range of books and videotapes on the subject
so that people can learn how to self-perform acupressure in the comfort
of their own homes.
- It is very safe, as long as a person follows the instructions provided
by a licensed health care professional. No drugs are involved with acupressure;
hence, there is no opportunity for drug-related side-effects to occur.
- It offers a great deal of benefits to the patient. Correctly performed,
acupressure increases circulation, reduces tension and enables the body
to relax. Reducing tension, in turn, strengthens the immune system and
However, acupressure is not without its limits. Applying acupressure
too abruptly, or using too much force during treatment, can lead to bruising
and discomfort. Great care should be used when applying pressure to points
on or near the abdomen, groin, armpits, or throat. Special care should
also be taken by pregnant women or those with recently-formed scars, burns,
infections or skin lesions. Patients should always consult with a licensed
health care professional before using acupressure or any other form of