Acupressure is quite similar to acupuncture, but without the needles. Both traditions use the same ancient Chinese diagnostic procedures, meridian system, and acupoints. In acupressure, practitioners use their hands to manipulate acupoints, which trigger energy and affect nearby muscles and joints. You can experience acupressure by visiting a practitioner or engaging in self-care practices.
What Is Acupressure?
For more than 5,000 years, people have used acupressure to unblock the flow of the body energy called “qi” (or chi). This traditional Chinese medical practice releases tension and restores the body’s natural energetic balance. Like many types of Chinese medicine, acupressure involves the twelve meridians, or channels which transmit energy throughout the body. Japanese energy work practitioners refer to qi as ki and practice what we now call Reiki. Acupressure also shares similarities with massage therapy, traditional Indian yogic practices, and many martial arts traditions.
Bodily energy can be blocked by injury, stress, or trauma. When this happens, a person may feel pain, tension, or numbness. An acupressurist understands the network of meridians inside the human body, the places at which energy often becomes blocked, and how to open up healing energy inside your body.
The Health Benefits of Acupressure
Acupressurists use acupressure points to relieve pain, balance energy, and promote health. The techniques they employ reduce tension in the muscles, increase circulation, and create relaxation. By relieving stress, these methods help people resist disease and increase their general wellness.
For millennia, Chinese culture has incorporated acupressure as a beauty treatment. Certain acupressure points are believed to improve the skin, tone facial muscles, and relieve congestion. By releasing toxins and increasing the flow of life energy, a person may enhance and brighten their appearance.
Many people have used acupressure treatments to treat impotence, infertility, fertility, and sexual endurance. By learning these special points on each other’s bodies, lovers can make acupressure a part of their intimate experiences. In addition to promoting sexual health, acupressure may also deepen sexual communication, foster a deeper intimate connection, and increase spiritual awareness.
Acupressure can be used to treat various minor health conditions and prevent disease. It is sometimes used in conjunction with medical treatments for major illnesses to help restore optimal health.
What To Expect from Your First Acupressure Session
Before your session begins, your practitioner will probably ask about your health history and goals for the session. Be sure to share all relevant information and ask any questions you may have. Remember, if you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to pause the procedure at any time, ask more questions, or stop the session.
It’s best to wear comfortable clothing (such as athletic gear or sweats) to your session and avoid wearing a belt. You will remain completely clothed; your practitioner will apply your treatment through your clothing. During your session, you’ll lie down on a padded table (similar to a massage table) and enjoy relaxing music.
Your acupressure therapist will employ a variety of hand techniques that work on certain acupressure points. They will only touch you with their hands and fingers. Your therapist will apply pressure ranging from gentle to firm, tap on certain places, or simply hold onto an area. During these treatments, you may experience a sensation of energy flowing from your practitioner’s hands into your body.
Many practitioners hold sessions for about 30 minutes. After your treatment, be sure to relax, drink water, and get plenty of rest.
Using Acupressure for Self-Care
You can use acupressure at home to treat a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Neck and back pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Stress and anxiety
- Emotional trauma
An acupressure practitioner can recommend maps that help identify acupressure points. One of the most well-known and easy to find acupoints is the LI 4 point in the muscled webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Try pressing it between the thumb and middle finger of your other hand, using your ring and forefinger for support. You will know you’ve found the spot when you feel a slight pain or discomfort.
When you apply pressure to an acupoint, maintain pressure on only this point for 2 to3 minutes; massaging the general area doesn’t provide the desired effect. Slowly increase and decrease the amount of pressure to allow your tissues time to respond. You should feel only a moderate amount of discomfort; acupressure should “hurt in a good way” like a healthy stretch. If you feel extreme or increasing pain, stop immediately.
As you keep pressing on an acupoint, you will probably feel a lessening of pain and discomfort. Pay close attention to any pain which arises in other parts of your body, a phenomenon known as “referred pain.” Pressing on these related body parts can release congested healing energy. Also, “listen” to your body and try to feel a pulse at the acupoint; this indicates increased circulation. If your pulse if very light or quite heavy, hold the acupoint for a while longer to balance your energies and circulation.
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