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What is Chinese Acupressure?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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Chinese acupressure is a healing art that probably has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine. It is based on the belief that the body contains numerous healing points, that when massaged, can stimulate the healing process. It is very similar to acupuncture, but replaces needles with finger massage. Followers believe that acupressure can relieve stress and promote physical and mental well-being.

Pressure points used in Chinese acupressure are scattered along a pathway that is called the 12 Meridians, and these meridians are named for the organs they represent. There is a meridian for the major organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and spleen. There are also meridians for both the large and small intestine. Other meridians refer to the stomach, gall bladder, and bladder. The final meridian is called the triple burner meridian, and it covers a path from the ring finger up the arm and shoulder where it finally ends at the eyebrow.

In addition to the 12 Meridians, Chinese acupressure also involves pressure points in the arms, legs, hands, feet, and head. Main pressure points located in the arms and legs are believed to affect many other parts of the body. Each pressure point is thought to be more active during different times of the day. Depending on the particular illness of a patient, acupressure treatments are scheduled based on the activity levels of the pressure point that will need to be manipulated.

Most historians believe that Chinese acupressure has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and that the birthplace of the art was most likely China. The earliest evidence of the art, however, was actually discovered in Europe. In 1991, a mummy was found preserved in ice in the mountains of Italy. The mummified remains had tattoos on his body that seem to correspond to acupressure pressure points. There is still some debate as to the archaeological significance of this mummy and how it may relate to the history of acupressure.

Learning the complete art of Chinese acupressure can take many years of study and training. Not only must the paths be memorized, but there are many different methods of massage, because different types of illnesses may require different massage techniques. Some techniques use only the fingers, and may use either shallow of deep massage, while other methods may require the whole hand to distribute the pressure. Some schools offer Chinese acupressure training, either as certificate programs or as part of a degree in alternative medicine.

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