Acupressure, an ancient healing art, works on the same principles as acupuncture, except that instead of inserting needles, practitioners apply pressure to acupressure points, also known as “acupoints.”
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, human energy (“qi” or “chi”) in the body flows along lines called meridians. Each meridian is thought to affect a certain organ or group of organs in your body. The theory is that allowing energy to flow unhindered helps to heal health problems.
To unblock the meridians and stimulate the flow of energy, acupressure therapists apply pressure to different acupressure points on the body with their fingertips, hands, feet, elbows or acupressure tools.
Benefits of Acupressure
Although little Western research validates the benefits of acupressure, this technique has a long history of helping many problems, including headaches, back problems and menstrual cramps. Acupressure may also boost the immune system.
From a Western perspective, pressure on acupressure points can release muscle tension and stimulate the flow of blood.
Acupressure has few known interactions with other, more conventional medical techniques, so it’s generally safe to use with other treatmentsâ€”except for blood-thinning medication. Another benefit of acupressure is that it has no side effects, except for some occasional dizziness or slight bruising at the site of the pressure points.
According to recent studies, maternity acupressure may reduce common discomforts of pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting. In addition, the University of Minnesota (n.d.) reports that maternity acupressure during labor can potentially:
- Decrease labor time
- Enhance the mother’s satisfaction
- Lower intervention rates
- Provide pain relief.
If you’re pregnant, discuss this type of therapy with your doctor before seeing a maternity acupressure specialist.
Your First Acupressure Appointment
If you decide to try acupressure therapy, take a few basic precautions. First, inform your acupressure practitioner of any medical conditions you have. Some conditions might make acupressure inadvisable, or require considerable caution, including:
- Coagulation problems
- Heart problems
- Recently broken bones
- Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure.
During a session, an acupressurist asks about the nature of your problem, asks you to lie down on a massage table and begins applying pressure to the appropriate acupressure points. Let your therapist know if anything is painful, so he can adjust his technique and pressure levels as needed.
You can also perform acupressure on yourself. Your practitioner may teach you techniques to practice at home, or you can buy books on the topic. Acupressure may be a safe and easy way to stimulate your self-curative abilities!
Betts, D. (1998). Acupressure techniques for use during childbirth and pregnancy. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.childbirthsolutions.org/articles/birth/acupressure/index.phphttp://www.childbirthsolutions.org/articles/birth/acupressure/index.php
Boyd, K. T. (n.d.) PointFinder: The online acupressure guide. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://med.stanford.edu/personal/pointfinder/http://med.stanford.edu/personal/pointfinder/
Can GÃ¼rkan O, A. H. (2007). Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18243942http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18243942
Gach, M. R. (n.d.). Acupressure articles. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.acupressure.com/articles/index.htmhttp://www.acupressure.com/articles/index.htm
Medline Plus. (2009). Nausea and acupressure. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002117.htmhttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002117.htm
Melbourne College of Professional Therapists. (n.d.). Chinese medicine history: Acupressure. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.mcpt.com.au/acupressure.phphttp://www.mcpt.com.au/acupressure.php
University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Holistic pregnancy and childbirth: What does the research tell us? Retrieved August 20, 2010, from http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/holistic-pregnancy-childbirth/what-does-research-tell-us