More on Massage: Acupressure

Qi and Eastern Theories of Wellness

Asian theories of health and wellness that form the basis of acupressure, tui na and shiatsu center around the concept of energy that all beings hold. This life energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”), permeates living beings and the entire universe. Within humans, energy flows in certain pathways and patterns throughout the body – these are called meridians. Think of them as highways of energy that run from our head to our toes. Each meridian contains many points (acupoints) along it that, when stimulated, can effect the energy flow in the entire body. The meridians also intersect and can cause change to the qi flow in other meridians.

Healthy people have a good balance and flow of qi in their bodies. All of the acupoints are open and balanced when a person is in perfect health. Imbalance in qi causes dis-ease. An imbalance could be one meridian being overactive, or another meridian suffering from a lack of adequate energy flow. Energy blockages at the acupoints disrupt the flow of the meridians. On each of these energy highways, the specific points act as exit/entrance ramps to control the flow of energy. Acupressure stimulates the points with direct finger pressure to correct energy flow.

The way acupressure works revolves around a holistic approach to the body-mind-spirit. In a traditional sense, acupressure is more about wellness than controlling symptoms, although it can be used for pain relief, muscle soreness, gastro-intestinal issues or emotional/mental imbalance. Certain points relieve specific symptoms as well as correcting the energy balance. In the east, acupressure is sometimes a treatment given at regular intervals as preventative medicine.

Acupressure can be the only modality used during a massage therapy session, but it is more often combined with other modalities and integrated into a full session. It is also a modality that can be done with the client clothed and lying on the massage table. During a session, the therapist may hold points on the body and remain still for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. At times, she may hold two points together to focus on the energy flow between those points or meridians. It is a very quiet and still modality and can induce deep states of relaxation.

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