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Acupressure Massage

Acupressure originated in ancient China. Like many other treatments used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the goal of the practice is to support movement of qi, or life force inside the body, notes the University of Michigan Health’s Rogel Cancer Center. According to TCM theory, qi flows through paths throughout the body, known as meridians. Along the meridians lie acupressure points, which can be stimulated by manual pressure with fingers or tools, heat, or needles, depending on the therapy and modality.

“These acupressure points are the same ones used in acupuncture,” says Matthew Cavanaugh, a doctor of chiropractic based in Lafayette, Louisiana. The traditional view is that “there are points on the meridian channels where it’s easiest to connect with the flow of qi,” he explains. Applying pressure to acupressure points is meant to elicit specific therapeutic effects on physical, emotional, and mental health.

In conventional Western medicine, the theory behind how acupressure works is a bit different, Dr. Cavanaugh notes. “It tends to be viewed more in terms of affecting certain nerves for a relaxing and therapeutic effect,” he says. Other theories, per the same review, include effects on the local tissues, brain function, neurohormonal activity, and physiologic pathways.