What is acupressure? A
Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and
Traditional Chinese Medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in
acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger pressure instead of with the insertion of needles.
Acupressure is used to relieve a variety of symptoms and pain.
Everything in the universe has properties of yin and yang. Yin is associated with cold,
female, passive, downward, inward, dark, wet. Yang can be described as hot, male, active,
upward, outward, light, dry, and so on. Nothing is either completely yin or yang. These two
principles always interact and affect each other, although the body and its organs can
become imbalanced by having either too much or too little of either.
Chi (pronounced chee, also spelled qi or ki in Japanese shiatsu) is the fundamental life
energy. It is found in food, air, water, and sunlight, and it travels through the body in
channels called meridians. There are 12 major
meridians in the body that transport chi, corresponding to the 12 main organs categorized
by Chinese medicine.
Acupressure is based on the principles of (TCM), Traditional Chinese Medicine like acupuncture.
Using the fingers (acupressure), the points along the meridians of the body are adjusted to promote
the flow of Chi (energy) throughout the body. TCM developed from the belief that Chi (energy) is
pooled along the meridian channels within the human body. If the points of the meridians are closed
or weak, the Chi cannot move through the meridian. Balancing the points along the meridians
promotes homeostasis in the body.
TCM is based on the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are symbols that complement one
another by representing life’s creation and our experiences of life. Each relies on each other in order to
exist. Yin depicts cold, serene, dark while Yang depicts hot, active and white. Yin attracts Yang and
Yang attracts Yin; yet Yin repels Yin and Yang repels Yang. Each works within the other; nothing
is solely Yin or Yang.
Yin in the body is represented as: chest/abdomen, interior of the body, female, blood, nourishing chi
Yang in the body is represented as: back/spin, surfaces of the body, male, energy (chi), and
The function of the meridians: Regulating Yin and Yang, Transportation of Chi and blood,
Resisting pathogens and reflecting signs and symptoms, transmitting sensation and regulation of
deficiency and excess conditions.
What to expect with an acupressure massage?
Prior to your massage you will complete a paper questionnaire. The questionnaire will give me a
synopsis of your yin or yang energy. Bbased upon your answers, a personal treatment will be
formulate specifically towards your body. Acupressure involves thumbing, and pressure upon points,
Acupressure (sometimes written as "acupressure") is a technique related to acupuncture, where
the energies of the body are regulated by manipulating points on the body. This has effects
on the emotions, tension and physical conditions.
The points are commonly called "acupuncture points," "pressure points," "acupoints" or
Acupressure techniques: Pressing and reducing points
There are two ways that acupressure points are manipulated: pressing (reinforcing) and
reducing them. Most are probably familiar with the first, but not with the second method.
To press points, use something blunt. Usually the fingers are used to press, but I find that for
many points the fingers may be a bit too thick, so you'd have to press quite long and firmly.
Ideal would be something 3 to 4 mm thick, like a (preferably used) pencil eraser that's on the
other side of a pencil. Some points can be pressed using a fingernail.
Pressing points for less than half a second can already have a distinguishable effect. So for
just trying out a point you could press it only briefly. To get a full effect however, pressure
should be applied for at least half a minute, but preferably longer. One to two minutes should
To reduce a point, turn a finger over it in counter-clockwise direction, also for one to two
minutes. (What happens when you do this is explained in "What manipulation of points
brings about.") Clicking on the picture of points that need to be reduced displays an
animation showing how this is performed (clicking again stops the animation).
I think it's a good idea not to get into the habit of doing the same points every day. Do them
when you feel you need them, don't overdo it. Pay attention to what effects points have on
If you're weakened (from age, disease or whatever), be sure to not reduce points more often
than necessary. You could also additionally press these points for a few seconds.
Do a point on both sides of the body.
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Feeling if it works
When you are not feeling any effects from pressing points, several things may be the case.
You may not be pressing on the exact right spot (acupuncture points are about 0.5 mm
diameter, so you'll have to be precise). Try different spots around the location you first tried.
You shouldn't press lightly, but you shouldn't hurt yourself either. Also, don't press for just a
few seconds (although if you're very sensitive you might already notice effects then).
To feel if acupressure is working (for knowing that the location of the point is accurate); I
usually sense what's happening in my face. Almost all points in the list on this site have
some effect here. Many of the points also have some subtle effect on the quality of vision. You
may see more clearly and more colors. Meditation will develop your ability to feel the effects.
If you're using a point quite often, or if you don't need a point, the effect may become very
little or unnoticeable.
If you're tense, you may not feel much, although usually you'll become less tense by using
the techniques on this site.
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Using information from other sources ("cun")
To be able to use information from other sources for locating points, you'll need to know what
the "cun" is.
c u n = 1 t h u m b w i d t h
The "cun" is the standard unit of measurement for
the body used in acupuncture. As everyone's body has different dimensions, it is defined
according to the person whose body is to be treated.
1 cun = width of the thumb, in the middle, at the crease
3 cun = combined breadth of the 4 fingers, at the level of the pinky finger's first joint above
the palm of the hand
12 cun = the distance from the elbow crease to the wrist crease.
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What manipulation of points brings about?
Acupuncture points can be manipulated in various ways. To keep things simple, acupressure
books usually just mention pressing the points.
If you've ever seen an acupuncturist you may have noticed that he will turn needles after
inserting them or do other manipulations. Acupuncturists also apply heat by burning stuff
called "moxa" or using a laser, or apply electric currents.
By simply pressing a point, you are reinforcing it. You, thereby, increase energy in areas
that the point influences. Reducing a point is actually not the opposite of reinforcing it. By
reducing, you remove a blockage of energy. A blockage may be felt as tension, pain or heat.
Energy accumulates there which starts moving again after removing the blockage. So if you
reduce a point after you reinforced it, you get reinforcement and removal of energy blockage.
They don't cancel each other out.
In acupressure, you can reduce a point by continually moving a finger counterclockwise over
it. An acupuncturist will turn his needle immediately after insertion.
It's also possible to apply heat to a point to warm it. This is an advanced technique that may
injure your energy system, so it's best to stay away from this.
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Why you shouldn't use needles
As for using needles, I've tried that, but have been discouraged to continue using them by
both an acupuncturist and a healer. The acupuncturist thought it was dangerous because you
can damage tissue, and difficult as you can't access points that well yourself. You may
damage blood vessels, nerves, tendons or bone, which can all be quite painful. On the breast or
shoulders, you may puncture the lung.
On an energetic level, the fear that comes with using needles on yourself may damage the
First Chakra. This may worsen your problems.
Using needles as an amateur may not even be legal.
I found that I feel more clearly what's happening in my body from acupressure than from
acupuncture, whether administered by a licensed acupuncturist or by myself.
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Using little balls and tape
I devised a safe and effective way to press acupuncture points for an extended period of time. I
use adhesive tape for use on skin to press ball-bearing balls on points. It doesn't work with all
points (e.g. it does not work well for ST-36, the point beneath the knees) but for many it's
o i n t L U - 9 p r e s s e d u s i n g b a l l a n d t a p e
The metal balls I use are 4 mm diameter and I
apply nylon rings (also bought at a hardware store) on top of them to supply a larger surface
to the tape. The inside diameter of the nylon rings should be 3 mm. Perhaps you could also
use the more common metal rings, but for some indefinite reason I prefer the nylon variety.
The rings avoid bulging and thus press the ball a bit deeper into the skin.
Keeping the balls in place for 5 - 30 minutes should do.
A similar method is sometimes used for ear acupuncture. Little seeds are then taped to the ear.
Acupressure can be used as part of a Chinese physician's prescription, as a session of massage
therapy, or as a self-treatment for common aches and illnesses. A Chinese medicine practitioner
examines a patient very thoroughly, looking at physical, mental and emotional activity, taking the
pulse usually at the wrists, examining the tongue and complexion, and observing the patient's
demeanor and attitude, to get a complete diagnosis of which organs and meridian points are out of
balance. When the imbalance is located, the physician will recommend specific pressure points for
acupuncture or acupressure. If acupressure is recommended, the patient might opt for a series of
treatments from a massage therapist.
In massage therapy, acupressurists will evaluate a patient's symptoms and overall health, but a
massage therapist’s diagnostic training isn't as extensive as a Chinese physician's. In a massage
therapy treatment, a person usually lies down on a table or mat, with thin clothing on. The
acupressurist will gently feel and palpate the abdomen and other parts of the body to determine
energy imbalances. Then, the therapist will work with different meridians throughout the body,
depending on which organs are imbalanced in the abdomen. The therapist will use different types of
finger movements and pressure on different acupoints, depending on whether the chi needs to be
increased or dispersed at different points. The therapist observes and guides the energy flow through
the patient's body throughout the session. Sometimes, special herbs (Artemesia vulgaris or moxa)
may be placed on a point to warm it, a process called moxibustion. A session of acupressure is
generally a very pleasant experience, and some people experience great benefit immediately. For more
chronic conditions, several sessions may be necessary to relieve and improve conditions.
Acupressure massage usually costs from $30–70 per hour session. A visit to a Chinese medicine
physician or acupuncturist can be more expensive, comparable to a visit to an allopathic physician if
the practitioner is an MD. Insurance reimbursement varies widely, and consumers should be aware if
their policies cover alternative treatment, acupuncture, or massage therapy.
Acupressure is easy to learn, and there are many good books that illustrate the position of acupoints
and meridians on the body. It is also very versatile, as it can be done anywhere, and it's a good form
of treatment for spouses and partners to give to each other and for parents to perform on children for
While giving self-treatment or performing acupressure on another, a mental attitude of calmness and
attention is important, as one person's energy can be used to help another's. Loose, thin clothing is
recommended. There are three general techniques for stimulating a pressure point.
* Tonifying is meant to strengthen weak chi, and is done by pressing the thumb or finger into an
acupoint with a firm, steady pressure, holding it for up to two minutes.
* Dispersing is meant to move stagnant or blocked chi, and the finger or thumb is moved in a
circular motion or slightly in and out of the point for two minutes.
* Calming the chi in a pressure point utilizes the palm to cover the point and gently stroke the area
for about two minutes.
There are many pressure points that are easily found and memorized to treat common ailments from
headaches to colds.
* For headaches, toothaches, sinus problems, and pain in the upper body, the "LI4" point is
recommended. It is located in the web between the thumb and index finger, on the back of the hand.
Using the thumb and index finger of the other hand, apply a pinching pressure until the point is felt,
and hold it for two minutes. Pregnant women should never press this point.
* To calm the nerves and stimulate digestion, find the "CV12" point that is four thumb widths
above the navel in the center of the abdomen. Calm the point with the palm, using gentle stroking for
* To stimulate the immune system, find the "TH5" point on the back of the forearm two thumb
widths above the wrist. Use a dispersing technique, or circular pressure with the thumb or finger, for
two minutes on each arm.
* For headaches, sinus congestion, and tension, locate the "GB20" points at the base of the skull in
the back of the head, just behind the bones in back of the ears. Disperse these points for two minutes
with the fingers or thumbs. Also find the "yintang" point, which is in the middle of the forehead
between the eyebrows. Disperse it with gentle pressure for two minutes to clear the mind and to relieve
Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the
skin to stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release
muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body's life force to aid healing.
Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while
acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands (and even feet). There is a massive amount of
scientific data that demonstrates why and how acupuncture is effective. But acupressure, the older of
the two traditions, was neglected after the Chinese developed more technological methods for
stimulating points with needles and electricity. Acupressure, however, continues to be the most
effective method for self-treatment of tension-related ailments by using the power and sensitivity of
the human hand.
Most people try acupressure for a specific ailment. Some of the more common ailments are:
* Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy/ morning sickness
* motion sickness
* nausea after surgery
* nausea due to chemotherapy
* cancer-related fatigue
* menstrual cramps
* muscle tension and pain