By Anna Lynn Sibal

Acupressure points If you watch martial arts movies, it is highly likely that you have seen a character in such a movie take down his or her enemy through the simple act of pressing certain points in the enemyís body. The application of pressure on these particular points on the body of the enemy can debilitate him or her in many ways, like making him or her paralyzed or blind.

In defeating his or her enemy through the simple power of the fingertips, these martial artists apply the principles of what is called acupressure. Acupressure, however, is not a mere combat maneuver; it is actually an ancient massage technique used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. And by ancient, we mean that acupressure has been around for around 5,000 years.

In acupressure, it is believed that the body has 14 meridians running through it, and through which energy, also called as chi, flows through the body. An imbalance in the hot and cold elements of the body, more known as an imbalance between the yin and the yang, can cause this flow of energy to be blocked, leading the body to experience pain and illness. The purpose of acupressure is to remove these blockages in order for energy to flow more freely by pressing certain points along the 14 meridians. In releasing this latent energy, the natural ability of the body to heal itself is revived and the body becomes rejuvenated and healthy.

Acupuncture actually works on the same principle followed in acupressure. However, unlike acupuncturists, a massage therapist who specializes in acupressure does not have any need for using needles. Acupressure is a non-invasive healing technique, and the massage therapist only uses her fingertips, hands, elbows and knees in manipulating the pressure points on her clientís body.

Whichever pressure points are manipulated by the massage therapists depends on the clientís condition that is being treated through acupressure. Certain pressure points correspond to certain parts of the body. For example, it is said that applying pressure to specific acupoints on the soles of the feet can relieve migraine. Abdominal problems are treated by pressing some parts of the abdomen. The application of light pressure on the backs of the knees is claimed to be a treatment for lower back pain.

Acupressure is said to be effective in treating various types of illnesses, not just stress and muscle pain. There are claims that such ailments as eyestrain, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness for pregnant women, arthritis, fibromyalgia and a host of other illnesses can be healed through acupressure. This is not proven yet according to conventional scientific means, but there are tests that prove that applying pressure on specific focal points of the body encourages the release of endorphins, the bodyís feel-good hormones. Acupressure also stimulates increased circulation of cell-nourishing blood through the body, not to mention lymph fluids that take away the cellís waste materials.

Acupressure, however, is not a miracle procedure. Whatever pain the body feels will not go away in just one session. Treatments often take as much as eight sessions, and sometimes even more depending on the seriousness of the condition being treated. Acupressure is nonetheless quite easy enough to learn, and you can do it on yourself if you need to.

Some people who suffer from certain ailments should avoid acupressure; in particular, people who are afflicted with infectious diseases and skin ailments; pregnant women; and people who have problems with their heart, lungs or kidneys.