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. These special points are typically called acupoints or acupressure points.
Acupressure therapy is usually given with the fingers, often the thumbs, but it can also be applied with other parts of the body, like with the elbows, feet, or knees, to name some examples. Specific massage tools may be used likewise, such as wooden sticks, stones, herbal compresses, and such.
It’s often thought that acupressure techniques originated in China, but it’s also been widely used in other ancient cultures and traditional medicine systems, for thousands of years, like in India. When we take a closer look at the history and development of Acupressure and various related techniques, it may even have been brought to China by Indians.
In China, for instance, acupressure techniques are based on TCM theories and used to mobilize Qi Life Force at certain locations on/in the body. These locations are called acupoints or acupuncture points. Additionally, Acupressure is a technique specifically used in Chinese Reflexology.
The acupoints are physical locations on the Meridians i.e. Life 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 overall well-being.
In the Thai Healing Arts, Acupressure is given on points that lie along the Sen Energy Lines, which are Life Force channels or pathways that 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 Nadi Energy Channels, that is, locations where Pranic energy enters the physical body.
Mind that 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 Life Force 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.