What is acupressure?

Acupressure involves having a trained practitioner exert light to hard pressure on various points of your body using fingers, hands, elbows, arms, legs, feet, or specialized devices. Although acupressure techniques may be incorporated into many traditional bodywork practices, most people think of shiatsu, a traditional Japanese practice, when they think about acupressure. 

Like acupuncture, acupressure techniques are based on Chinese medicine’s map of invisible channels in the human body through which vital energy (known as chi or ki) is thought to flow. While this meridian system has not been fully validated or accepted within the Western scientific community, some techniques from acupuncture and acupressure are being more widely studied and used for pain management and other indications.  

Shiatsu sessions typically begin with a brief consultation, then move into thirty minutes to an hour of acupressure followed by a short rest and time for feedback. Practitioners may also prescribe take-home stretches, physical or body-awareness exercises, or even self-administered acupressure techniques. 

Some people who are going through psychiatric drug withdrawal report that acupressure has helped them relax; relieved feelings of anxiety, sadness, pain, or nausea; or helped them sleep better. Some also say they have successfully used acupressure on themselves.


Where can I find more information?

  • A website that describes how to use acupressure on yourself.
  • A video in which a shiatsu practitioner explains some techniques and theory and takes you through a typical shiatsu session.  
  • Simple web searches will yield a variety of self-treatments and products using acupressure points to relieve headaches, nausea and other common problems.
  • A systematic review of forty-three scientific studies on the efficacy of acupressure in managing a variety of symptoms.