When our eyes get tired or our head hurts, we instinctively rub our temples or pinch the root of our nose – we are helping ourselves, often unwittingly, with acupressure.
Acupressure and acupuncture: differences and commonalities
Acupressure is related to acupuncture. The difference is that instead of needles, certain acupressure points are treated with pressure. The healing method from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is acupuncture's little sister, so to speak. Acupressure is deemed not quite as effective and is therefore recommended for milder complaints or as a preventive treatment. As a simple form of first aid, acupressure also lends itself to patients treating themselves. It is said that school children in China already know the key acupressure points and therefore how to help themselves.
Strengthening self-healing powers with acupressure
Like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates certain points on the twelve energy pathways (meridians) that, according to TCM, run through the body. Instead of inserting fine needles into these points, doctors and therapists apply pressure of varying intensity – using their palms, fingertips, fingernails, thumbs, elbows. This releases blockages in the flow of energy and strengthens the body’s self-healing powers, restoring it to a state of balance.
Acupressure is recommended for complaints that include:
neck and shoulder pain
anxiety and inner restlessness
nausea and the urge to vomit
Tuina massage, also known as Anmo massage, works similarly to acupressure. In this therapy, tissues and organs, individual body points or larger areas are pressed, kneaded, tapped and stroked. These massages are designed to stimulate energy flow and blood circulation, and to relax muscles and tendons. In contrast to standard massage techniques, patients usually remain clothed or cloths are placed on the body.
Acupressure points: simple hand techniques
As a general rule, any acupressure treatment should start with a proper diagnosis by qualified doctors or therapists. However, patients can often help themselves with a few simple hand techniques. A few examples for effective acupressure points for specific complaints:
- Forehead headache: rub the root of the nose with thumb and forefinger.
- Sleeplessness: massage the armpit with the fist.
- Travel sickness: the pressure point is below the right wrist. Massage this with three fingers of the left hand. Also helps with nausea during pregnancy.
- Blocked nose: press with both index fingers on points behind the earlobes or next to the nostrils.
Aids for acupressure
Various aids exist to ensure practitioners reach the right acupressure points. A selection:
- Acupressure pen: serves to massage acupressure points with pinpoint accuracy. Also called acupuncture pen or APM stick.
- Acupressure cushion: neck pillow with soft protrusions, promotes blood circulation and relaxes muscles.
- Acupressure ring: massages the fingers and stimulates the energetic points and related organs.
- Acupressure armband: can relieve travel nausea, morning sickness during pregnancy, nausea caused by migraines and other types of nausea.