According to the 5000 year old Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system, there are 12 invisible vital energy pathways running through the body. In a healthy body, the vital energy, called Qi (sometimes spelled Chi) maintains a balanced flow throughout the body. When the energy becomes blocked, problems arise. TCM practitioners have located over a thousand acupuncture points at critical junctures throughout the body where these blockages occur. The aim of acupuncture, or the insertion of fine needles at these critical points, is to release these blockages, restoring the natural flow of Qi.
Acupressure massage is sometimes mistakenly thought of as a new technique, but it has also been used as a therapeutic technique by TCM practitioners for thousands of years. By exerting pressure on the acupuncture points with his fingers, hands, elbows or a specially designed instrument, the practitioner achieves the same results as an acupuncturist achieves. In many cases, such as stress, acupressure massage may be the preferred method of treatment.
What Happens During an Acupressure Massage?An acupressure massage begins with a consultation. The practitioner will ask you what you are seeking relief from. Stress is often felt only vaguely in the body, but manifests itself psychologically as irritability, anxiety, mild depression and a number of other symptoms. In the body, stress has been shown to result in a number of disorders, including high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, gastric problems, localised pain (particularly in the back, shoulders and neck) and other disorders that if not dealt with can become chronic and lead to very serious health problems.
When the therapist knows what you are seeking relief from, he can then locate the appropriate points on your body to focus on. In most cases, he will work on several areas. You may be surprised to find that if you are seeking relief from a stress-related headache, for example, your massage may include work on a specific point between the toes or someplace else on the body far away from where you are feeling pain. This is because a blockage at one point along a meridian may be causing pain or discomfort in another area along the same meridian.
What Does Chinese Acupressure Massage for Stress Feel Like?Often we instinctively attempt to perform self-administered acupressure massage. For instance, when we have a headache, we place our fingers against our temples and rotate them. This sometimes helps, but because we are not skilled at locating the proper pressure points, we end up turning to the medicine chest for headache pain relief. A Chinese acupressure massage feels similar to this self-administered treatment. In addition to using rotational movements with the thumbs or fingers, the therapist may use a variety of other techniques, including:
- Kneading: He may knead muscles with the fingers or heels of his hand to relieve stiffness and tension.
- Steady pressure: This is a primary technique used in acupressure. Steady pressure is applied to a specific location for up to several minutes.
- Brisk rubbing: This stimulates blood circulation to the affected area.
- Tapping: He may tap a point on the face repeatedly with a fingertip. When tapping is done on a fatty area like the buttocks, loosely clenched fists may be used.
If you want to give it a try, but are still unsure, you can always start with a short session, such as a neck, shoulders and head Chinese acupressure massage for stress treatment. You will probably find, as so many others have, that it can be a great way to help you feel your best again.