The facts

Acupressure is a touch-based therapy derived from the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. But where acupuncturists use thin needles to access "trigger points" on the body, an acupressure practitioner uses their hands and fingers to apply pressure to those points.

Different forms of acupressure include the Japanese practice of shiatsu, which translates to "finger pressure," and tui na, which means "pushing and pulling" in Chinese.

Qi (pronounced "chee"), a flow of energy, is central to the ideals of wellness in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that blocked qi contributes to disease, so restoring qi balance is one of the aims of acupressure. To unblock qi, an acupressure practitioner would use their fingers and palms to stretch and massage trigger points on the body.

By applying pressure to certain points on the body, it is believed that blocked qi can be liberated, which will then lead to balance between the opposing forces of yin and yang. Yin is thought to be a cold, slow, and passive energy, and yang a hot, excitable, and active energy. Balanced yin and yang supports overall health and wellness.

Acupressure done at a wrist trigger point has been found to relieve nausea. Other potential benefits of acupressure treatment have been less thoroughly studied, such as reducing muscle pain and improving circulation.

A word of caution

When performed by a trained and experienced practitioner, acupressure is considered safe. No serious side effects or complications have been significantly linked to acupressure.

Certain medical conditions may make acupressure less safe for some. Be sure to consult with your doctor before receiving treatments and to tell your health care providers about any acupuncture treatments you have undergone.