What is acupressure used for?

In over 2,000 years of practice, acupuncture has evolved and developed many distinctive subsets with their own distinctive approaches to treatment, while still retaining the same fundamental principles from which the tradition arose in the first place. Acupressure is one such practice, and in this article we look at what acupressure is used for in the modern world.

Acupressure vs. Acupuncture

Acupressure is built on the same fundamental principles that drove the development of acupuncture. Both techniques are based on traditional Chinese beliefs regarding the flow of Qi, a life force thought to be essential to good health. The ancient Chinese believed that Qi was transported around the body through a system of vessels called meridians, and that these meridians were not unlike our circulatory system in that they could be obstructed, disrupting healthy flow. It was thought that any disruptions in the flow of Qi ultimately led to poor health, and acupuncture was devised as a technique to correct obstructions and restore good Qi flow, and through that, good health.

Needles, the tool most closely associated to acupuncture, were deemed the most useful tool to stimulate particular points in the body which could restore healthy Qi flow. These points were also called acupuncture points or acupoints. While needles are perhaps the most widely used tools for the stimulation of acupoints, they are far from the only one. Acupressure is a practice which aims to achieve the same goals, namely the stimulation of acupoints, but through the use of fingers, thumbs, elbows, or specialist tools to do so. The application of pressure at these acupoints is how a practitioner of acupressure aims to treat his or her patients.

How is acupressure used?

Acupressure has a number of applications, however it is important to point out that many of these roles remain unsupported by scientific evidence and research. This is at least partly due to a lack of high quality studies, so despite this lack of backing evidence, acupressure may still have invaluable applications. In fact, some studies performed to date do suggest that the technique does show some promise.

Acupressure can be used to relieve pain, and in this particular application it has been compared to other massage or physical therapy techniques, which also use pressure to relax muscles and promote circulation. Traditional practitioners also use acupressure to balance the flow of bodily energies, although the existence of energies like Qi remains unproven.

Acupressure has been used as a beauty treatment for generations in China, with treatment reported to achieve improved muscle tone and blood flow around the face. These treatments are usually offered alongside facial exercises.

Acupressure has shown particular promise as a therapy for back pain and muscle tension. The back is rich in large muscles subject to a lot of daily stress through both exercise and the simple act of maintaining posture.

Acupressure can purportedly help alleviate anxiety and stress, and in this respect it is often compared to massage techniques which can also achieve the same end. Relaxation usually accompanies muscular relaxation, and this in turn can help address anxiety and restore some degree of emotional wellbeing.

Some report that acupressure can help treat addictions including drug use, alcoholism, and overeating. Some practitioners apply acupressure for sexual purposes, suggesting that treatments can improve fertility, sexual endurance, and libido. This is a more obscure application of the practice which isn’t as widespread as others.

Many acupuncturists are also trained in acupressure, and this practice is one which can potentially offer success for people suffering from a variety of conditions. That being said, the lack of evidence supporting acupressure affirms the fact that it should only really be pursued as a therapy complementary to medical care, and not as a replacement for treatment.

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