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The history of acupressure

Where does acupressure come from and who invented it?

Believe it or not, acupressure is almost as old as Chinese culture itself. The oldest records date back to 2600 BC. Apparently, the original texts describing this technique remained hidden until the 17th century, when Western healers recognized the beneficial effects of touching certain body points and began to spread the benefits of acupressure throughout the world.

There is certainly no inventor of acupressure, but since the spread of acupressure worldwide, great experts have perfected the technique and added more areas to those known thousands of years ago.

It is important to note that acupressure was part of another group of traditional Chinese treatments for ailments such as general pain, stress, nausea, and diseases resulting from energy built up in the human muscular system. Thus, acupressure did not begin as an isolated and unique method, but rather as a ramification of a number of other healing modalities.

Because of its Eastern origin, all known points are in the Mandarin language. Physiotherapists traditionally do not translate the names to preserve the essence of the technique.

Is acupressure massage scientifically proven?

Although traditional Chinese medicine, which includes acupressure and acupuncture, is older than modern medicine, the latter does not accept the philosophical basis of touching strategic points of the body to achieve healing.

Worldwide, there are millions of testimonials that report numerous improvements after using this type of therapy. However, in many countries there are licensed specialists who support these traditional techniques. These specialists are certified to use both acupressure and acupuncture, as they are sister modalities.

In short, modern science has not bothered to record and approve the actual benefits of the two therapies. However, this has not stopped more and more people from becoming practitioners and instructors of these therapies, which are considered alternative by official bodies.

Does acupressure really work?

Yes, acupressure has led to significant improvements in patients who have not achieved favorable results with modern Western medicine. According to experts, this healing method replaces modern treatments with medications and surgical interventions.

More and more specialists in the fields of traumatology, endocrinology and psychology are joining the use of acupressure as an alternative and complementary form of holistic treatment to find a definitive solution to people's health problems.

Almost 50% of the world's population is familiar with various traditional Chinese techniques, including acupressure. Half of this population participates in sessions to reduce the side effects of modern conventional treatments, including as a complete substitute for medications and as an effective form of health care.

What is acupressure and what is it used for?

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is about channeling the energy accumulated in certain areas of the body. By applying pressure to trigger points, associated points and meridians, this energy is released and muscle tension is relieved. Since this is a holistic method, there is no magic formula for finding relief. It all depends on the patient's disposition and the therapist's knowledge.

We have already told you that this therapy is the sister of acupuncture. Both have the same philosophical principles and the same knowledge of how to achieve higher endorphin production in the body to achieve physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.

Unlike acupuncture, acupressure does not use needles. It only requires strength and skill in the hands and knowing where and when to apply pressure, depending on the patient's initial needs.

What is it used for?

The ultimate goal of acupressure is to produce concrete improvements for the patient. Sometimes this goal is achieved in a single session, but often several sessions are required before significant changes are noted.

It regulates basic body functions such as digestion, blood circulation, sleep levels, energy flow, metabolism, and mood of people who see an acupuncturist. It is also helpful in relieving pain in muscles called trigger points, but should only be used for general discomfort and not for physical injuries.

How is it applied?

A good therapist must follow some basic aspects to make it work: First, he must know in advance the needs of the patient to know which points to touch. Before starting to apply pressure, a light touch should be done first to measure the sensitivity of the person; we don't want the session to be uncomfortable instead of pleasant.

Within a session, the fingers, the joints, the palms or even just the thumbs can be used, depending on the location of the point to be worked. The movements can be circular and light or with friction and strong pressure.

An essential aspect to keep in mind is that the same pressure must be maintained on both sides of the selected area. An example is the points on the soles of the feet. When the thumbs are touched with force, the index fingers should offer the same pressure, maintaining an energy balance.

And although the hands are often used, there are special products, like the ones you will see in this list:

  • Acupressure Mat + Pillow: The mat and pillow are perfectly sized to treat large areas such as the back or legs. It contains thousands of pressure points and a small pillow to support the neck.
  • Individual Acupressure Pillow: Although it comes with the mat, it can also be purchased separately. The whole head and neck rest on it so that the hundreds of points can do their work.
  • Acupressure massage set for hands and feet: this is a complete set that allows you to treat discomfort in your hands and feet during each session. It comes with a foot roller, two spiked massage balls, one hard and one double lacrosse ball.
  • Manual Foot Massager with Roller: This is the perfect size for treating the soles of your feet. Although designed specifically for use on the feet, it is also used for the hands. It relieves the feeling of tightness and cramps in the limbs.
  • Myofascial Massage Balls Lacrosse: They come in different sizes, weights and textures. Each is adapted to sensory abilities. There are single balls, double balls and soft balls. Most come with a convenient carrying case. And most importantly, you get instructions.
  • Hook massager or manual stick massager: these hooks are curved and long and have extra points and extensions to cover more areas at once. Points on the neck, back and shoulders are stimulated in a single session.

The main acupressure points

If you want to achieve a deep state of relaxation, the points of action are usually located in the upper body, such as the head, neck area and limbs. However, here are other acupressure points you should know about.

Points on the head and neck

  • LI-4 (Hegu)
  • Du23 Shangxing
  • Vb14 Yangbai
  • Ren24 Chengjiang
  • Ig17 Tianding

Points on the arms and hands

  • Pc2 Tianquan
  • P4 Xiabai
  • Pc3 Quze
  • P6 Kongzui
  • Pc7 Daling

Points of the upper body

  • R27 Shufu
  • E14 Kufang
  • Ren20 Huagai
  • E17 Ruzhong
  • B14 Fujie

Points on the legs

  • H9 Yinbao
  • E36 Zusanli
  • E40 Fenglong
  • H5 Ligou
  • E31 Biguan

Points on the feet

  • E42 Chongyang
  • E43 Xiangu
  • H1 Dadun
  • B3 Taibai
  • B4 Gongsun

Health benefits of acupressure massage therapy

If you're hesitant to get involved with acupressure, check out this list of the best benefits this traditional Chinese technique can offer you.

  • Facilitates sleep and rest: stress and anxiety cause insomnia in many people. Acupressure drains the pent-up energy and ensures better sleep and restful nights.
  • Relief from headaches and migraines: acupressure is more effective than muscle relaxation massage for migraines. This technique quiets the mind and helps people find more solutions to their problems.
  • Relieving toothache: It is important to emphasize that acupressure does not eliminate the original problem of the tooth, but only relieves the pain until the dentist can repair the damage. There are points on the jaw that serve this function.
  • For nausea and vomiting: although these are ailments that originate in the head and stomach, relief can be obtained by touching various points on the hands and wrists. This should be done with the thumbs. The positive reaction is immediate.
  • For constipation: the points on the abdomen help to move the intestines until the accumulated stool finds its way out. Constipation is associated with stomach pain.
  • To induce labor: There is not enough evidence to link acupressure directly to labor, only that it improves circulation and prevents fluid retention. There are certain points that should not be touched during pregnancy.
  • Reduces Anxiety: Stress, anxiety, fears and phobias are human characteristics that are regulated by touching seven main points on the head. Several sessions are required to achieve a visible effect.
  • Improves digestion: to improve digestion, you should firmly touch the points on the abdomen and create light movements over the back in the area of the intestines. Positive changes can be noticed after the first session.
  • Improves blood pressure: High blood pressure is a condition that can be regulated by acupressure. Acupressure requires at least 8 weeks of sessions, each lasting 20 minutes. Different parts of the body are touched to regulate blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce depression: Emotions such as depression activate areas of the brain that can be regulated by light touch. With regular sessions, the change in attitude will be visible.
  • For heartburn: If the heartburn is mild and there is no reflux, it can be controlled by touching points on the chest and in the diaphragm area. If the sensation persists, do not hesitate to see a specialist.
  • For plantar fasciitis: fascia is a tissue that occurs throughout the body. Therefore, acupressure affects the entire surface of the body and not just the soles of the feet. However, with acupressure mats, you can stimulate only the foot for quick results.
  • For the sciatic nerve: the points that control this condition are located on the back. They must be treated carefully because the pressure on the nerves can cause pain. The nerves are very sensitive to the pressure of the hands and, in acupuncture, to the pressure of the needles.
  • Muscle relaxation: when you touch the trigger points, you modulate the tension and irregular contraction of the muscle fibers. You can improve entire muscle groups at once or a single muscle.
  • Releases muscle tension: In this holistic technique, tension is energy buildup, and the power of the hands is used to help energy flow better through the body. The less energy that is accumulated, the less tension and associated pain.
  • Muscle tension: Acupressure helps you regulate muscle tension and spasms. You can also use this technique as a preventative measure if you play sports.
  • Sports injuries: They are mainly used on the lower limbs, that is, in sports such as soccer or basketball. Touching these points brings great benefits for chronic and minor injuries related to inflammation, moderate pain and muscle fatigue.
  • Improving athletic performance: like acupuncture, this modality prepares the muscles for the high demands of sports. It serves to warm and cool the body.

F.A.Q: Frequently Asked Questions

Are acupressure and Shiatsu massage the same?

  • Acupressure is a technique that uses the fingers of the hands to promote the flow of energy in the body.
  • Shiatsu massage is applied with the fingers, but it is not just spot touches. The hands are used to rub, touch and activate specific areas of the muscles. Its origin is in Japan, but today it has adopted principles of traditional Chinese medicine.

Are acupressure, acupuncture and dry needling the same?

Acupressure and acupuncture are sister techniques. They have the same origin and are based on the same philosophical principles. The only real difference is that acupressure uses hands, fingers and joints; acupuncture uses needles.

The dry needling uses a single, thin needle to stimulate muscles one at a time. This function is mainly recognized by modern medicine as it relieves myofascial pain. It looks for an intense physiological response to reduce muscle pain and soreness.

Is acupressure therapy safe?

Yes, more and more medical specialists are calling for the use of alternative therapies like acupressure to achieve results that conventional Western medicine does not offer patients. There are millions of people around the world who claim to feel improvements in ailments such as stress and migraines that cannot be remedied by medication.

What are the risks and contraindications of acupressure massage?

In fact, there is no evidence that excessive therapies are counterproductive for people's health. It should only be noted that certain points should not be touched in pregnant women.

Also, in case of serious injuries such as sprains, dislocations and fractures, points in the affected areas should not be touched. Allow a specialist to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the injury.

Is it normal for the pressure points to hurt during an acupressure massage?

No. Acupressure is meant to relieve pain, not increase it. If you experience severe pain when activating these points, the technique should be stopped immediately. Remember that it should only be used on minor injuries. For chronic injuries, its use should be suggested by a specialist.