Acupressure is a massage therapy technique used in a variety of massage modalities, such as, for instance, in Traditional Thai Massage, Ayurveda Marma Therapy, Reflexology massages, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and it involves applying (firm) pressure on certain points or areas of the body.
It’s usually given with the fingers, often the thumbs, but acupressure can be applied with other parts of the body also, like with the elbows, feet or knees, to name some examples. Tools maybe used likewise, such as wooden sticks, stones, compresses, and such.
It’s often said that acupressure originated in China, but it has been widely used in other ancient cultures also, for thousands of years, like in India. Looking closer at the history of acupressure, the technique may even have been brought to China by Indians.
In China, for instance, the acupressure technique is based on TCM theories and is used to mobilize Qi Life Force via/at specific locations on/in the body. These locations are called acupoints or acupressure points. Additionally, acupressure is a technique specifically used in Chinese Reflexology.
The acupoints are physical locations on the Meridians (energy channels) manipulated to release blocked or congested energy centers, promoting the free flow of Qi (called Prana in India or Lom Pran in Thailand) in order to promote balance, health and well-being.
In the Thai Healing Arts, acupressure is given on points that lie along the Sen Energy Lines, lines which can be compared to the TCM meridians, but follow completely different trajectories in the body.
In Ayurveda healing a similar concept applies. There, the acupressure points correspond to so-called Marma points, which are the “doors” or “windows” along the Nadis (energy channels) where Pranic energy enters the physical body.
Acupressure should not be confused with acupuncture, the latter based on the same TCM principles but using needles which are inserted at acupoints into the meridians to remove Qi (Prana) blockages.
Acupressure can be used at any moment during a massage treatment and alternated with other massage techniques. Some massage modalities however are completely applied with acupressure techniques.