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Acupressure is a holistic treatment using pressure on specific parts of the body to help relieve a wide range of conditions.


An Introduction to Acupressure

Acupressure is a form of massage therapy originating from China. While the practice is thought to be over 5000 years old, it is still common and used as a bodywork therapy for a wide range of conditions.

During a session, a therapist applies pressure to specific parts of the body using their fingers, elbows, palms or feet. The areas of the body correspond to the body’s energy lines, also known as meridians. It’s believed these energy lines can often get blocked which can cause pain or discomfort in the body, and need releasing to help feel well again.


What are meridians?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a meridian is an invisible channel through which qi – the body’s vital energy flows. Similar to our nervous system, the meridian pathways can be mapped throughout the entire body. It is thought when illness or pain occurs, the body’s energy cannot flow freely, and this creates an imbalance in the body.

An Acupressure therapist puts pressure on specific parts of our meridian lines to clear these blockages, helping us feel well again. Therefore a practitioner may focus on different parts of the body to the symptomatic area, treating the body with a holistic approach.

Benefits of Acupressure

How can it benefit you?

Many people choose Acupressure to support their general mental and physical wellbeing. These may include more specific reasons such as:

  • Improving relaxation and energy
  • Supporting digestion
  • Supporting pregnancy
  • Balancing hormones
  • Increasing happiness and harmony
  • Increasing life longevity

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Further Reading / Studies

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of Acupressure within western medicine. The majority of studies that have been conducted so far have been positive and in favour of Acupressure as a non-toxic alternative therapy for both physical and mental conditions.


Pain management

According to a systematic review in 2014, Acupressure has been shown to relieve a variety of pain in different situations – including back pain, chronic headaches and labour induced pain. This review has helped establish Acupressure as a credible evidence-based treatment for pain relief. It’s not uncommon now for healthcare practitioners to incorporate Acupressure into treatment plans for pain sufferers.


Migraines and tension headaches

A two-year study found self-applied Acupressure can be an effective treatment for migraines and tension headaches. Doctors were able to replace outpatient prescriptions with self-applied pressure techniques. Establishing it as a safe alternative to painkillers and oral medications. In addition, you can now buy wearable pressure pads for chronic sufferers of migraines and headaches.


Nausea and vomiting

Studies conclude using Acupressure is effective at preventing nausea. In particular, one study found that using pressure bands on the wrists can alleviate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The results favour using Acupressure as a safe and effective way to manage symptoms of nausea in pregnant women. It can also be prescribed for other situations such as travelling or motion sickness.



Acupressure treatment is not just for physical conditions. It can also have a therapeutic effect on our mental and emotional wellbeing, most notably anxiety. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that Acupressure provides immediate relief for patients awaiting a surgical operation or treatment. Another study found that Acupressure given 3 times a week significantly reduced depression and anxiety in patients with hemodialysis. However, there are few studies into the effects of Acupressure on anxiety outside of clinical situations.


PMS and menstrual pain

A Cochrane review of available trials found Acupressure can reduce physical and mental premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms in women. Again Acupressure is beneficial for providing self-controlled relief, without the prescription of a healthcare provider.



A systematic review and meta-analysis of English and Chinese studies found Acupressure to be a beneficial sleep aid, even for fragile populations such as the elderly and dialysis patients. Acupressure was found to be most beneficial for the time it takes to fall asleep, and for improving sleep duration.


Labour pain

A review of trials found Acupuncture and Acupressure may help relieve pain during labour, but more research is needed. Some trials reported less intense pain, increased satisfaction with pain relief and reduced use of analgesic drugs with acupuncture compared with placebo or usual care.

Choosing the right Acupressure therapist

Choosing the right therapist for you

It’s common for Acupressure therapists to be trained in several other holistic disciplines such as acupuncture, holistic massage and reiki. Usually, practitioners train for at least three years to become professionals and can specialise in specific techniques such as Tui Na, Shiatsu and Su Jok massage.

Currently, there is no statutory regulation of Acupressure therapists in England. However, it is sometimes available on the NHS. There are some recognised professional bodies that therapists can register with, such as the British Acupuncture Council, Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and The Acupuncture Society.


What’s the difference between Acupressure or Acupuncture?

Acupressure and Acupuncture both focus on unblocking energy in the body, the difference is in the technique used to achieve this. Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate sensory nerves under the skin, whereas in Acupressure, the therapist will apply pressure to stimulate the body’s pressure points using their hands instead of needles.

The result is that Acupuncture needles tend to trigger a stronger reaction to the blockages. Whereas Acupressure is less invasive and more suitable for people with an aversion to needles. A benefit of Acupressure is that you can also perform it on yourself once you’ve been guided by a professional.

What to expect in your first Acupressure session

What to expect in your first Acupressure session

Like with most holistic therapies, Acupressure therapists take a good look at your health history as a whole. Expect to spend most of the session talking about your eating, sleeping and work habits, and a short examination of your pulse and tongue. The therapist will use this information to determine the meridian lines which contain imbalances that need to be addressed.

Ideally wear clothing that allows access to your knees, lower legs, and arms where most of your Acupressure points will be found. Your first session will start slowly, usually with the therapist applying light touch to a few areas of your body to see how your body responds to the pressure.

Your therapist may form a treatment plan and suggest follow up sessions to target the root cause of your symptoms. You might also receive some diet and lifestyle guidelines, and be given recommended pressure points to work on in your own time.

A typical course of weekly treatments can last from four weeks to several months depending on your condition. Some people may only need one session to feel significant benefits afterwards.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.