Chances are, you have heard of acupressure therapy. However, you may wonder what exactly acupressure is. Well, acupressure is acupuncture without the needles. Acupressure involves applying pressure- typically with fingers, but also uses hands, elbows, knees, feet, and blunt objects- to specific points on the body in order to promote healing.
Traditional Chinese medicine says that our body has vital energy, referred to as “Qi” or “Chi” that flows along invisible energy lines, called meridians. It has been said that there are at least 14 of these meridians that connect our vital organs to other parts of our body.
Acupressure and acupuncture points sit along these meridians. If at any point along the meridian, the “Qi” is blocked, this is a result of an illness and could cause disease. This is why acupressure and acupuncture therapist apply pressure or needles to a point on the foot in order to relieve the pain of a headache.
However, you should know that there is no scientific agreement or evidence as to how acupressure works. Some say that the pressure causes the body to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relieving chemicals. Other theories state that the pressure has an effect on the autonomic nervous system.
Why Use Acupressure?
Most of the time, when people try acupressure, it is because they have a specific problem and want some relief without having to use medical intervention. Some of the common problems people use acupressure for are as follows:
- Motion sickness
- Nausea/vomiting during pregnancy
- Fatigue related to cancer
- Nausea after surgery
- Muscle pain/tension
- Menstrual cramps
- Nausea from chemotherapy
Though more research is necessary, studies have proven that acupressure is quite effective at treating nausea. All of the studies regarding nausea and acupressure have used a point on the inside of the wrist, called P6. Some advantages of acupressure for nausea is that you can administer it yourself and it is one of the ones that is safe for women who are pregnant as well as individuals with cancer or other disorders.
How is Acupressure Administered?
Most of the time, acupressure is done by a trained acupuncturist and the individual receiving the acupressure massage will lie on a massage table. However, you should know that you can also administer acupressure on yourself.
It’s best if you consult a professional acupuncturist for instructions, generally, you administer acupressure by using your thumb, knuckle, or fingertip to apply firm, gentle pressure to a particular point. Most often, the pressure is increased for approximately 30 seconds, held for about 30 to 120 seconds, and then decreased gradually for about 30 seconds. You will then repeat this 3-5 times.
Warnings about Acupressure
You should know that acupressure should never be a painful experience. If you are experiencing pain during your acupressure session, stop doing it and try again later on.
Make sure that you use caution and gentle pressure over areas that are sensitive, such as the face.
Unless under the strict supervision of a qualified professional acupuncturist, the following individuals should avoid acupressure massage therapy:
- Those with osteoporosis
- Those with recent fractures/injuries
- Those who bruise easily
- Those with bleeding disorders
- Those using blood thinners
- Those with circulatory problems because of diabetes
Women who are pregnant should speak with their physician before using acupressure therapy. There are certain points, such as those on the abdomen or leg that should not be used on pregnant women as they could cause premature labor.
You should not use acupressure on areas that are bruised, swollen, or over varicose veins or open wounds.
Acupressure Side Effects
After you’ve had an acupressure session, you may have a little bit of soreness at the pressure points. Also, you may experience some temporary lightheadedness.
Using Acupressure for Foot Pain
Foot pain can be a result of trauma to your feet, sitting, standing, misalignment of the hips/knees, or repetitive motion. In addition to traditional medical care, you can get relief from foot pain through acupressure. Though you can perform acupressure on yourself, if you’re in severe pain, you will most likely want to ask someone to do it for you. Following are some tips for using acupressure to relieve your foot pain.
– First of all, you must figure out where exactly your pain is coming from. There are a number of acupressure medians on the foot and since there’s not one particular spot to relieve pain, you will need to know where the pain is originating so that you will be able to apply pressure to the right point.
– If your feet are especially tender or bruised, you will want to consider using acupressure points that are not located on your feet.
– Take one of your fingers and follow your calf muscle up from your ankle until you find a divot just below the meaty part of your calf muscle. Traditional Chinese medicine refers to this point as “Bladder 58.”
– Next, you will want to move your finger diagonally to the outer edge of your calf muscle. The point you will find here is referred to as “Bladder 57.”
– Take your thumb and press deeply on this point for a second to see if there is any stimulation. Once you’re sure that you have found the right point, you should press for at least thirty seconds, up to two full minutes.
– Find “Bladder 58” again and press on it for a second. Then, press and hold for at least thirty seconds, up to two minutes. These points are wonderful if you’re having motor control difficulties in your feet.
– Repeat the process over again on the opposite leg.
In today’s society, when medication is used for nearly every little ache, acupressure is a wonderful, natural alternative. You can use this to treat a variety of problems and illnesses. However, you should know that if your symptoms persist or if you have a serious injury, you should seek traditional medical treatment.
Also, if you have a heart condition, you should not use acupressure. If you’re pregnant, acupressure should only be used under the strict supervision of a professional. Finally, don’t use acupressure within twenty minutes of exercising, eating a large meal, or taking a bath.