2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Acupressure

What Is It?
Acupressure is a type of bodywork that involves pressing specific points on the body with the fingers, knuckles, and palms (and sometimes the elbows and feet) to relieve pain, reduce stress, and promote general good health. Developed in China some 5,000 years ago, perhaps out of the natural human instinct to hold or rub a place on the body that hurts, acupressure is part of the holistic system of traditional chinese medicine (TCM) that also includes acupuncture. (Interestingly, the use of acupressure predates acupuncture by some 2,500 years.)

In the United States acupressure is primarily used to relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. In China, the technique is used more like first-aid: The Chinese typically practice it on themselves or on family members to treat everyday ailments such as colds, headaches, sore muscles, and hangovers. Specialists are consulted for more complicated problems.

While many people prefer to go to a trained therapist to get acupressure treatments, the techniques, once learned, can be performed on oneself or by a friend.

How Does It Work?
Traditional Chinese medicine views health as the constantly changing flow of vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”) throughout the body. If that flow is hindered, sickness may develop. The goal of acupressure (and acupuncture) is to release blocked energy by stimulating specific points–called acupoints–along the body’s 14 primary meridians, or energy channels. Pressing firmly and steadily on the proper acupoints, it is suggested, can promote energy flow to a part of the body that is experiencing disease or discomfort, enabling it to heal itself more readily. While acupuncture involves stimulation with needles, acupressure typically uses only the practitioner’s hands to restore the balance of qi.

Although Western science has found no evidence that meridians actually exist in the body, studies do suggest that pressing on acupoints can release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.

What You Can Expect
During a treatment, which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to nearly an hour depending on the severity of the problem, an acupressure therapist may have you sit or lie on a massage table. Some acupressure therapists will work through clothing; others will ask you to undress (you will be covered with a towel).

The therapist will then locate and work on the specific acupoints that relate to your condition. Pressing a point behind your knee, for example, can help address low back pain. Or pressing a point on the top of the foot may help ease the pain of migraine.

Typically, the therapist will press each point for about three to ten seconds (longer in some cases). The points may be pressed and released repeatedly. If the problem doesn’t respond after about 20 to 30 minutes of treatment, acupressure may not be effective for you on that particular day, or for that particular ailment.

After a treatment, you will probably feel looser and more relaxed. You may experience a slight achiness, but you shouldn’t be in pain. Within three to eight visits, you should know whether the treatment is working for your ailment. Stress management usually requires a series of about six regular (weekly or monthly) treatments.

There are many different types of acupressure, and each practitioner may draw from a variety of methods. One of the most popular is shiatsu, a Japanese technique based on ancient Chinese principles. Practitioners of Zen shiatsu use their whole bodies as leverage to apply strong pressure. Barefoot shiatsu practitioners bring the feet into play, as well as the hands, to rub and press acupressure points. In the Chinese acupressure variation known as Tui Na, practitioners use their hands for massagelike kneading motions. Reflexology is a type of acupressure that involves pressure points on the feet and sometimes the hands.

Even if you prefer to do acupressure on yourself, you may wish to see an acupressure practitioner for a visit or two first, particularly if you are addressing a chronic or complex medical problem. These visits can help you learn where the particular acupoints are on your body.

Health Benefit
Many people have reported success using acupressure to relieve pain, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation. A number have found the therapy especially helpful for easing back pain and for certain types of headaches, including migraine. Post-operative pain and nausea has been found to respond to pressure point massage. Chronic sinusitis sufferers have also found it useful for easing congestion. Although research results are mixed, acupressure is also commonly used for morning sickness, motion sickness, and other types of nausea.

Some people find that treatments improve their overall vitality and well-being.

How To Choose a Practitione
There is no licensing procedure for acupressure therapists. Because acupressure involves massage, it is important to find someone you feel comfortable with. A word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or co-worker may be the best place to start. Having a short phone conversation with the therapist before you go in for a visit may help you find out if you at least like the person.

Cautions

  • Never press on an open wound, swollen or inflamed skin, a bruise, surgery scar, varicose vein, or broken bone.
  • Avoid acupressure if you have a contagious disease, an infectious skin disease, or a serious heart, kidney, or lung disorder.
  • Avoid acupressure in the area of a known tumor.
  • Acupressure should not be applied directly over the lymph nodes.
  • Certain acupressure points must be avoided during pregnancy. Be sure to tell your practitioner if you are or may be pregnant.

For practitioner information and biographies click here or call 773-296-6700.


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Ten Drugs Doctors Should Consider De-Prescribing

    Physicians use the word polypharmacy when a patient is taking five or more prescription drugs daily. A recent survey showed that half of women Medicare recipients were taking five or more drugs daily, and 12% of them were taking ten (!) or more. New patients frequently arrive at WholeHealth Chicago carrying bags stuffed like piñatas with prescription drugs and nutritional supplements, the latter recommended by Read More

  • Toxic Metals, Heart Disease, and Chelation Therapy

    In last week’s Health Tip I reviewed the well-researched health dangers of environmental toxic metals (also called heavy metals). They’ve always been a serious health risk, but with the Trump Administration’s recent rollbacks of clean air and water regulations we can expect even more trouble ahead. Statisticians predict an astonishing 160,000 unnecessary deaths over the next decade from the reversals of clean air and water Read More

  • Heavy Metal Toxicity and Your Health

    For those who were otherwise preoccupied that day long ago in high school chemistry, the heavy metals refer to a group of especially dense metals or metal-like substances (called metalloids) found in the environment. These metals–specifically lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum–can all be absorbed by your body and stored there. Our environment is already quite toxic (Trump’s EPA deregulations aren’t helping) and it’s getting Read More

This month, save 20% off all Metagenics Medical Foods

UltraMeal
UltraInflamX
UltraClear