Acupressure (from Latin acus “needle” + pressure) is an alternative medicine technique similar in principle to acupuncture. It is based on the concept of life energy which flows through “meridians” in the body. In treatment, physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the aim of clearing blockages in these meridians. Pressure may be applied by hand, by elbow, or with various devices.
Some medical studies have suggested that acupressure may be effective at helping manage nausea and vomiting, for helping lower back pain, tension headaches, stomach ache, among other things, although such studies have been found to have a high likelihood of bias. Like many alternative medicines, it may benefit from a placebo effect.
Acupoints used in treatment may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi (also spelled “chi”).
Many East Asian martial arts also make extensive study and use of acupressure for self-defense and health purposes, (chin na, tui na)… Also, martial artists regularly massage their own acupressure points in routines to remove supposed blockages from their own meridians, claiming to thereby enhance their circulation and flexibility and keeping the points “soft” or less vulnerable to an attack.
A variant system known as two point acupressure attempts to bypass a blockage of vital flow by using one acupoint to create a link with one of the collateral meridians, and then using one additional acupoint to stimulate or reduce the flow around the obstruction.
There are several different instruments for applying nonspecific pressure by rubbing, rolling, or applying pressure on the reflex zones of the body. The acuball is a small ball made of rubber with protuberances that is heatable. It is used to apply pressure and relieve muscle and joint pain. The energy roller is a small cylinder with protuberances. It is held between the hands and rolled back and forth to apply acupressure. The foot roller is a round, cylindrical roller with protuberances. It is placed on the floor and the foot is rolled back and forth over it. The power mat (also pyramid mat) is a mat with small pyramid-shaped bumps that you walk on. The spine roller is a bumpy roller containing magnets that is rolled up and down the spine.