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What is Chinese Acupressure Massage?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Aug 16, 2021

What is Chinese Acupressure Massage?

What is Chinese acupressure massage? How is it different from Chinese acupuncture? What are the differences between acupressure massage and an ordinary massage? If these questions have been running in your head for a while, this guide gives you the lowdown on each complementary treatment to help you understand the potential benefits of acupressure to your condition.

Chinese acupressure massage originated from the ancient medicinal art of acupuncture. In order to fully understand how it works, it is important to understand some of the basic principles of acupuncture.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the health of the body depends on the flow of vital life energy, called Qi (or Ki), throughout the body. This energy passes through a system of "meridians", otherwise known as energy channels, in the body. The Chinese acupuncturists have meticulously mapped out these meridians, which are associated with their corresponding vital organs. The acupuncturist inserts needles in the specific meridians to balance the flow of Qi. When Qi is balanced, it is believed that the symptoms of health disorders are relieved and you return to your healthy state of wellbeing.

What is Acupressure Massage?

The difference between acupuncture and acupressure is the use of needles. Acupuncture uses needles while acupressure uses gentle or deep pressure on the meridians. The acupressure massage therapist may perform one or more of the following ways, depending on your preference and the assessment of your needs:

  • Using fingers or thumbs in applying pressure to targeted points
  • The practitioner may also use his elbows, knees or even feet for certain treatments
  • Sometimes, a special blunt instrument is used for certain procedures

The practitioner applies pressure to a targeted point being treated using a circular motion, or they may knead the muscles or use rapid percussion. The effectiveness of the treatment does not depend on the amount of pressure applied to the areas. Some clients prefer less pressure while others want more. The practitioner adjusts the pressure level according to the personal comfort level of the client. Aside from targeting the meridians, the practitioner may also use other traditional remedial massage techniques in relieving muscle stiffness and eliminating built-up toxins from the body.

What Does Acupressure Massage Treat?

Acupressure massage is not designed to treat specific health conditions. This form of complementary medicine is designed to help improve the body's ability to heal itself. Some common complaints many people have found relief from after receiving acupressure treatment include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue in patients with cancer
  • Muscle soreness
  • High blood pressure
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dental pain
  • IVF anxiety
  • Labour pain
  • Excess body weight
  • Chronic pain and anxiety resulting from breast cancer treatment

Acupressure can complement standard medical treatment or be used in conjunction with other complementary therapies, to speed up the healing process and improve your sense of well-being. The length and type of treatment depends on your personal preference. So, you may opt for a short, relaxing head and neck treatment, which usually lasts about 20 minutes, or a full body acupressure massage that can last for about an hour. Afterwards, you will probably be advised by the practitioner to drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins from the body. Most people come away feeling totally refreshed and relaxed and often experience relief from underlying disorders.

Is Acupressure Massage Therapy Better Than Regular Massage?

Chinese acupressure massage and regular massage therapy are both holistic forms of bodywork that are beneficial to the mind, body and emotions. There's only a hair's breadth of difference between them as they both address a wide range of pain conditions, enhance circulation, improve sleep quality and offer a whole lot of other health benefits. The differences between them lie in their principles and applications. 

Most massage techniques are carried out with gentle pressure in the beginning, and then the therapist gradually shifts to a firm pressure. Additionally, massage therapy treats focused areas, which means the therapist goes directly to the source of body pain. The application of acupressure, on the other hand, is grounded in acupoint stimulation using finger pressure to balance the flow of energy in the meridians, which is crucial in the reduction in pain.

If the root cause of your health condition goes beyond muscle tension, plus you're keen on replenishing your body's vital energy, knowing that it's the key to improving your heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels, then you will benefit loads from the effects of acupressure.

Can an Acupressure Device Produce the Same Results as a Treatment Session? 

The astounding effects of acupressure are well-documented, hence the reason why many people use it in conjunction with conventional Western medicine. However, the human body works round the clock, so a single acupressure therapy session can only go so far. 

If you couldn't afford to get regular acupressure sessions, you'll be happy to know that wearing or using acupressure devices are a suitable option. An acupressure mat or other similar items have been clinically proven to relieve pain and discomfort that stem from different medical conditions or the side effects of conventional treatments.

The benefits of wearing acupressure bands, for instance, are similar to what you can get from receiving ear acupressure for nausea. In fact, a clinical study titled Acupressure Bands are Effective in Reducing Radiation Therapy-Related Nausea, which was published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, states that such wearable devices can effectively control nausea among cancer patients who are receiving radiation therapy. 

There is also empirical evidence for the efficacy of acupressure slippers in relieving foot pain and promoting better quality of sleep. Before purchasing an acupressure device, though, consult a qualified acupuncturist to find out which acupoints in your meridians require stimulation. 

Contact a qualified practitioner of Chinese acupressure massage today and reap the benefits of this holistic healing modality. To find one in your local area, check out the comprehensive listing of natural health professionals on the Natural Therapy Pages.

Originally published on Jun 10, 2011

FAQs About Chinese Acupressure Massage

How many times can acupressure be done in a day?

Ideally, acupressure should be practised every day or at least three times a week to maintain the normal flow of your vital life force. Each acupressure session should last for a few minutes to an hour.

Does Acupressure Really Work for Weight Loss?

Yes, acupressure can help with weight loss. This branch of TCM stimulates the acupoints situated in the meridians to remove any blockages that affect the body's digestive system. In doing so, it improves the metabolic rate and sheds off unwanted pounds.

How long does it take for acupressure to work?

Most people see immediate results after two to three sessions of acupressure. A significant reduction in pain, better sleep quality, and a positive mindset are some of its numerous benefits. Long-standing ailments, however, will require a longer treatment duration.

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