Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique involving the application of pressure to key points on the body’s energy system. It is based on the same theory of traditional Chinese medicine as acupuncture, which claims good health is maintained by regulating the flow of energy through invisible channels in the body, called meridians.
Practitioners use mostly fingers and thumbs to apply pressure to the same points used by acupuncturists. Often, acupressure is not practised as a separate discipline, but is used to complement acupuncture or is incorporated into traditional Chinese massage, which is called tuina. Acupuncturists may also teach patients some acupressure techniques to use at home.
It is not exactly clear how acupressure works. One theory is that pressure over certain nerve fibres blocks the pathways of pain in the body. Another is that stimulating certain energy points releases the body’s own natural painkillers, called endorphins. Other research has shown that energy points are areas of skin which conduct electricity much better than the surrounding skin, so stimulating them may release blocked energy. A good deal of research however, actually does prove the benefits of acupuncture in relieving pain, treating nausea and addictions, lifting depression and enhancing the immunity system. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified over 40 conditions in which acupuncture has proved beneficial. It is assumed that acupressure has a similar, though perhaps weaker, effect on the body. As such, it can be helpful for minor or short-term problems or ailments related to stress and tension, rather than disease.
Acupressure is compatible with all medicines and drugs, however it is best if one notifies one’s doctor when one practices other types of healing therapies. The self-help aspect of acupressure is often considered to be its greatest strength. You can use acupressure yourself, or better yet, ask a friend to help. Apply quite deep, firm pressure with your thumb and fingertips so that you feel a little discomfort. This tender feeling is a good indication that you have found the right point, and it should soon ease. Apply pressure for 2-3 minutes at a time. Repeat the treatment every day until the symptoms start to clear, and then treat less often.
To clear a headache, rest your forefingers on your forehead, approximately one finger width above the middle of each eyebrow. Move your fingers around until you find the points that ache under slight pressure and massage down towards the eyes. This works for frontal headaches. For aches over the whole head, press on the point in the web of flesh between the thumb and forefinger and the point on the outside of the shin. Pressing firmly on a point in the middle of the earlobe may also help.
To relieve nausea, press with your right thumb on the inside of your left wrist approximately two finger-widths up from the heel of your hand and in line with your ring finger. Apply firm pressure to the point until you feel a dull ache, and massage with the thumb down towards the wrist. Repeat on the other hand.
To sleep well, find the tender spot on the inside of your ankle, in the hollow just behind your ankle bone. Press firmly on the point with your thumb and massage up towards the inside of your knee. Repeat on the other foot.
Acupressure is more effective when given by a trained specialist. Always consult one before treating yourself. A specialist works to balance the entire body, and not just to eliminate your symptoms. Professional treatment involves working along the whole meridian, some of which may be inaccessible when treating yourself. A professional treatment is also better because it is more relaxing.
Have you ever tried acupressure? Let us know in the comment section below.