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> Services > How is Acupressure Different than Western Massage?

How is Acupressure Different than Western Massage?

Unlike Western massage, which applies long flowing hand movements to the superficial muscle layer for stress relief and relaxation, acupressure applies systematic and sequential pressure to the acupoints in order to correct blockages or aberrations in the flow of qi through the meridians and restore health.

Acupressurists uniquely recognize that stimulating an acupoint on one part of the body can trigger a healing response in another part of the body, that each acupoint can benefit a variety of complaints and symptoms, and that all of the muscles, organs and tissues of the body connect with and affect each other via the meridians.

For example: A patient with neck pain, chronic sinusitis, tmj (jaw pain), acid reflux and knee problems goes to a Swedish massage therapist. The therapist applies various massage strokes to the patient’s neck and leg muscles in order to aid local circulation and relieve stiffness and tension in the affected muscles and joints. Relaxing music and aromatherapy are used in an attempt to relax the patient and relieve the acid reflux. The patient experiences short-lasting relief of muscle tension.

The same patient comes to my office for acupressure. I perform the identical diagnostic procedures I use with my acupuncture patients. I discover that the patient has stagnant and rebellious qi in the stomach meridian. I show the patient an acupuncture chart, and trace the stomach meridian, which flows from the eyes >sinuses > jaw, >neck, > chest/breasts > stomach >thighs (quadriceps muscles) > knees > shins > 2 nd toe. This is an oversimplified example, as most patients have problems involving more than one meridian, as well as imbalances between meridians.

During the treatment I disperse acupoints on the stomach meridian, and tonify relevant points on other meridians. I stimulate local acupoints—such as those on or near the sinuses, jaw, neck, stomach and knees, and distal acupoints—such as a stomach meridian point on the web between the 2nd and 3rd toes. After the treatment, I offer to tape a tiny pressball to the stomach acupoint on the patient’s external ear. This reinforces the benefits of the treatment.

The patient returns the following week and reports having a sense of wellbeing and energy since the previous treatment. All symptoms subsided, except for the acid reflux. I am not surprised that the acid reflux has not yet resolved because an imbalance of the stomach organ* is at the root of this patient’s problems, and organ problems typically take longer to treat. I suggest a few dietary modifications and teach the patient a daily self-acupressure routine. After 5 more acupressure treatments, the patient reports no longer having acid reflux symptoms.

*Note that every ache and pain is not necessarily caused by an organ imbalance. Often, there is simply a blockage in the meridian, and not in its associated organ. This is usually easier and more straightforward to treat.


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