Acupressure Massage: The Top Spa Double Treat

Acupressure is ancient healing in which firm pressure is applied to the body’s pressure points and meridians. Preceding acupuncture by at least a millennium, acupressure emerged more than 5,000 years ago. Because of ancient Chinese medical traditions emphasizing minimal body contact between patients and physicians, years ago acupressure fell out of favor. Acupressure was also considered inferior by the higher classes because of its resemblance to manual labor. Consequently, acupressure became a lower pursuit among Eastern academics.

Acupressure was held in higher regard in India and among Middle East traditions, and eventually, its importance in Chinese medicine was restored. Two factors contributed to its rise in status: 1) the Communist revolution, at which time China became a uniformly poor country with few Western-trained physicians; in addition, little money was available for modern drugs and therapies. To cope with this situation, the country’s administrators encouraged the resurrection of traditional hands-on-medical knowledge, including acupressure; 2) an interest in the West of traditional Chinese medicine, which elevated its status.

Acupressure Points

Acupressure points are located in patterns on the surface of the body and are connected by pathways or channels called meridians. The Zang-Fu organs are the internal destinations on the meridians. The network of 12 meridians connects the entire body together in a manner similar to the blood circulation system of veins, capillaries, and arteries. The meridians begin at the fingertips, connect to the brain, and then connect to an associated organ.

Energetic substances called Qi (energy), Jing essence (inherited source of reproduction and development), Xue (Blood), and Jin Ye (nourishing fluids) flow continuously through the meridians in a single direction. According to traditional Chinese medicine, blockages in the meridians lead to disease. Qi that circulates near the surface of the body, Wei Qi, serves as the body’s first line of defense against external pathogens.

Acupressure Technique

Acupressure stems from the word ACU, which means care or precision. Acupressure points are grouped along the meridians in a way that pressing on points on a meridian affects the flow of substances in the entire channel. According to meridian theory, the channels pass through the limbs of the body and link up to the internal Zang-Fu organs.

Acupressure therapies use different methods, such as massage, to stimulate the points. The goal is to stimulate the points and enhance circulation in the meridians and promote the function of the internal organs and the limbs, which the meridians traverse. Acupressure aims to adjust two kinds of abnormalities, conceptualized as congestion and weakness by clearing away congestion and supplementing weakness (tonification).

Acupressure Massage

Acupressure massage is available at many spas, especially spas versed in traditional Chinese therapy. Acupressure therapies use the same points on the body as acupuncture to treat or prevent disease. Practitioners of acupressure apply pressure to these points with fingers, thumbs, knuckles, elbows, feet, and a number of acupressure tools, including acupressure sticks. Acupressure may also involve stretching techniques.

The massage therapist uses a variety of techniques, including rubbing, kneading, percussion, and vibrations, varying the degree of pressure as needed. Acupressure massage can be performed with fully clothed clients sitting, standing, or lying down. Specific bodywork techniques include shiatsu, tuina, jin shin does, and Swedish oil massage.


  • Acupressure can restore and increase the function of the internal organs and enhance immunity to disease.
  • Acupressure can relieve pain, including headaches, toothache, menstrual pain, and arthritis, and enable the body to relax.
  • Acupressure regulates opposing forces of yin and yang (negative and positive energy respectively).
  • Acupressure relieves digestive disorders, dizziness, nausea, including morning sickness, digestive disorders, stress, depression, and fatigue.
  • Acupressure stimulates the body’s own recuperative powers and helps restore homeostasis, perhaps through its ability to increase endorphins.
  • Acupressure greatly improves overall health and helps prevent disease.
  • Because acupressure restores balance to the system, it can treat both subtle discomfort and more serious disease.
  • Acupressure relieves muscular tension and promotes blood circulation.


Acupressure massage should be avoided if the treatment is in the area of cancerous tumors or if cancer has metastasized to the bone; in rheumatoid arthritis, spinal injuries or bone diseases that could be worsened by physical manipulation; in patients with varicose veins; in pregnancy, because manipulation of certain points can induce contractions. However, with your doctor’s permission, acupressure can be used to alleviate nausea resulting from cancer therapies or morning sickness.

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