Acupressure alternative to acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that has evolved in many ways over the 2,500 odd years of its practice. Many aspects of modern acupuncture include different avenues of treatment, all designed to achieve therapeutic goals to benefit a patient/client. One such approach is known as acupressure, a blend of acupunctural techniques and unique massage techniques that can achieve remarkable results when applied by trained practitioners.

How is acupressure different to acupuncture?

Both practices have their roots in traditional Chinese beliefs in how the body works, although differences between modern and traditional practitioners have risen since the introduction of the practice to the Western world.

The basis of traditional Chinese acupuncture is a belief in Qi, an energy necessary for good health. Qi is thought to travel around the body by means of its own specialist circulatory system made up of vessels called meridians. Poor health was thought to be a consequence of a disruption in the natural, healthy supply of Qi through its channels, and acupuncture was first devised as a means by which to restore healthy Qi flow. For traditional practitioners, the purpose of acupressure is similar to that of acupuncture, which is essentially the restoration of healthy Qi flow.

Acupuncture targets specific acupoints which correspond to the traditional Chinese understanding of meridians and their distribution in the body. While acupuncture utilises needles driven into the skin to stimulate these acupoints, acupressure utilises the application of pressure to achieve the same goals. So while the principle of both practices remains the same, the method of execution is what sets them apart.

Many practitioners of acupressure in the Western world have adopted different and more scientific philosophies in their practices. According to these approaches, the application of pressure on certain parts of the body achieves therapeutic goals much like traditional massage, by stimulating blood flow and hence recovery for example.

Pressure can be applied by any means necessary, however the most common tools used are fingers, thumbs, elbows, and knees. However a number of specialist pieces of equipment can also be used to achieve excellent results. These include rollers and specially designed balls which can be rubbed around an acupoint to stimulate recovery.

The effectiveness of acupressure is, much like its parent practice acupuncture, subject to a great deal of debate about its effectiveness and scientific merit. That being said, acupressure has proven to be a successful method of treating back pain, myofascial pain, and nausea, although critics of the treatment suggest that similar goals can be achieved through conventional massage therapies.

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