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What is Foot Acupressure?

By Stephanie M. Lucas
Updated May 17, 2024
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Foot acupressure is touch therapy derived from traditional Chinese medicine that utilizes pressure points of the feet to alleviate various symptoms in the human body. When performed by a Chinese medicine practitioner, acupuncturist, or massage therapist, acupressure is believed to alleviate pain and a variety of other symptoms throughout the body. The treatment is not widely accepted by the mainstream Western medical community, but it has become predominant among alternative medicine practitioners.

Acupressure uses the belief that the human body’s life force, often referred to as chi, is a balance of flowing energy that travels in and out of the body. Chi flows along pathways in the body, called meridians, to influence the function of all bodily organs. It is believed that a disruption of this flow can cause illness or pain. Pressure points are located along the meridians that act as valves for the flow of chi. The theory of acupressure concludes that stimulation of these pressure points can restore the balanced flow of chi.

With acupressure, a deep pressure is applied to the pressure point that corresponds with the affected area of the body. Pressure is typically applied with a fingertip, knuckle, or elbow. Sometimes, more than one pressure point exists for an area, in which case each point would be stimulated until the correct pressure point was located. A sharp twinge or jolt typically will be felt when the correct pressure point is located. When the point is found, pressure is applied for 15 to 30 seconds; a person should then experience immediate relief of the symptoms. Pressure usually is released immediately if symptoms are intensified.

Acupressure can be performed on pressure points all over the body. Foot acupressure is specific to utilizing pressure points on the feet. According to reflexology charts, the feet contain pressure points for every major organ in the body. Due to easy access, foot pressure points can be used for self treatment. In addition to alleviating specific symptoms, foot acupressure is used for relaxation, to improve circulation, to stimulate internal organs, and as preventative therapy.

Foot acupressure originates from ancient Chinese medicine, as do most forms of Western alternative medicine practices. Generally, acupressure is a non-invasive form of acupuncture. The oldest-known text about acupuncture points dates to 282 A.D. Chinese medicine was almost unheard of in the United States until the 1970s when it gained attention from a news report in the New York Times. Since that time, it has gained in popularity and acceptance as a complementary medicine to be used in conjunction with other medical treatments.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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