Most people have heard of acupuncture, but how about acupressure treatment? Although it is less well-known, acupressure works in a very similar way to acupuncture. It also has some distinct benefits of its own.
In this article, we explain all you need to know about acupressure treatment, plus some of the most useful techniques to try at home.
What is Acupressure Treatment?
Acupressure works on the same principles as acupuncture. It is based on the idea that our state of health depends on the free flow of a substance called qi inside the body.
The word ‘qi’ is not straightforward to translate. However, most people think of it as a kind of energy or life-force. According to Chinese medicine theory, qi flows around the body in channels called meridians.
When the meridians are clear and free from obstructions, qi can circulate to all parts of the body, providing energy and nourishment. However, if a meridian becomes blocked for any reason, the flow of qi is obstructed.
When qi cannot flow as it should, it accumulates in one area and becomes stagnant. This leads to symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, and pain.
Meridians can become blocked for a variety of reasons. It could be a result of an injury or overusing a particular body part over time. Blockages can also occur following long-term illnesses or chronic emotional stress.
Acupuncture and acupressure treatment can help to remove these blockages and restore the free flow of qi. The difference is that acupuncture uses ultra-fine needles to do this, whereas acupressure uses pressure from the fingers and thumbs.
Acupressure Treatment Techniques
Acupressure treatment can be seen as a type of massage. However, it has some important differences from massage treatment too.
Firstly, massage tends to focus on whole, large areas of the body using pressure from the palms, knuckles, and forearms. Acupressure, on the other hand, uses the fingertips or thumbs to apply pressure to specific acupuncture points.
Secondly, massage is often performed with the patient undressed and lying on a treatment table. Although acupressure can be done like this, it is usually not necessary. It is possible to carry out an acupressure treatment with the patient fully clothed and sitting in a chair.
Finally, acupressure can be useful for relieving specific symptoms within the body. Although massage can help to relieve stress and relax the muscles to reduce pain, acupressure is more focused. By selecting points that correspond with particular organs and body parts, it is possible to have a more targeted effect by using acupressure treatment.
Some common acupressure treatment techniques include pressing the points firmly, or massaging them gently in small, circular movements. It is quite normal for some acupuncture points to feel tender when you massage them, but it should never feel uncomfortable.
Another common acupressure treatment technique is to press on ‘trigger points’ within the muscles. This can help to relieve stiffness, poor mobility, and pain.
Easy Acupressure Treatments to Try at Home
One of the biggest advantages of acupressure treatment over acupuncture is that patients can use it safely at home.
This makes it a great way to stay on top of symptoms in between sessions. It also means that acupressure treatment can be employed as a first-aid measure in certain situations.
Here are some of the most effective ways to use acupressure treatment at home to relieve some common, everyday ailments.
Large Intestine 4 – Best for Headaches, Facial Pain, Toothache
Although this point is on the hands, its meridian connects it directly to the face. This makes it ideal for relieving all kinds of issues in this area, including headaches, facial pain, and toothache.
You can find the point on the back of the hand, in the v-shaped hollow between the bones connecting to the thumb and forefinger. It often produces a dull, achy sensation when you press in the correct place. Massage the point gently for 1–2 minutes on each side, or until you feel your pain beginning to dissipate.
This point is sometimes known as ‘the great eliminator’ and it may also be helpful for treating constipation. However, it is also associated with inducing labor, and should not be used during pregnancy.
Heart 7 – Best for Stress and Anxiety
In Chinese medicine, the Heart plays an important role in regulating the emotions. This point as a direct influence over the Heart and is, therefore, helpful for stress, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
You can find the point on your inner wrist, in a straight line with the little finger. Your finger should naturally fall into a hollow between the bones and the tendons of the wrist here. Massage the point gently for 1–2 minutes on each side, or until your anxiety begins to melt away.
Conception Vessel 12 – Best for Heartburn and Indigestion
The Conception Vessel (CV) runs in a straight line up the center of the body. It connects with the reproductive organs, hence its name, but also has a strong influence over digestion.
CV12 is in the middle of the channel, over the lower part of the stomach and the entrance to the small intestine. Therefore, it may be useful for helping food to move down the digestive tract and relieving heartburn and indigestion.
You can find the point approximately midway between the belly button and the bottom of the sternum (breastbone). Press gently for 1–2 minutes, or until you feel some relief.
Pericardium 6 – Best for Nausea
In Chinese medicine, this is one of the most important points for treating nausea. It is the point that motion sickness bands aim to stimulate, and can also be useful for relieving morning sickness during pregnancy.
The point is located between the two thick tendons in the center of the forearm, around three finger-widths along from the wrist crease. To expose the tendons, make a tight fist and they should become clear.
Press the point on both sides until you feel some relief. Alternatively, you could use commercial travel bands or similar to provide more sustained stimulation.
These are some of the most common points that you can use with acupressure treatment in a first-aid situation. However, there are many more that will be more appropriate for individuals with specific health issues. Consult with a qualified acupuncturist to learn more about the best acupressure treatment for you.