Pressure Point Massage Techniques

Shiatsu, acupressure, zone therapy, and other pressure point massage techniques differ from whole body massage in that they concentrate on specific points, which are comparable to the acupoints of acupuncture. The objective is to maintain or restore the proper flow and balance of vital energy within the body.

Shiatsu

This is a Japanese massage technique that combines aspects of Chinese acupuncture and philosophy with body massage. Pressure points, or tsubos, are situated along 12 pathways, or meridians, extending from head to toe or finger tip. Shiatsu practitioners believe that the life energy, or qi, flows along these meridians; pain and disease occur when this energy flow is blocked or misdirected. The area between the ribs and pelvis, referred to as the hara, is considered the body’s storehouse of qi, and a shiatsu treatment begins and ends with the therapist massaging this section. A proper flow of energy is then restored by massaging and pressing upon the relevant tsubos. Practitioners also strive to bring the force of yin, which is deep and internal, and yang, which is more active and superficial, into proper harmony. Thus, a patient suffering from yin symptoms such as fatigue and drowsiness would be given a treatment designed to stimulate the more energetic yang forces, whereas a calming yin treatment would be administered to a person complaining of headache or restlessness.

During a typical shiatsu session, the person may be clothed or unclothed and usually lies on a carpeted floor or mat, with the therapist kneeling at her side. Pressure is applied mostly with the fingers, although practitioners may also use the entire hand, elbow, knee, and other body parts. A session lasts generally from 45 to 60 minutes,

and the, areas being massaged may very depending upon whether there is an underlying disorder. Although shiatsu is used to treat certain medical problems, such as back pain or headache , it is ore often considered a preventive therapy to help keep the body functioning properly.

Acupressure

This technique differs from shiatsu in that its goal is to treat specific disorders by pressing upon the acupoints used by acupuncturists. The appropriate acupoint is identified, and the therapist uses a fingertip or thumb to press upon it. A circular motion may then be used to stimulate constant pressure.

Reflexology

Also referred to as zone therapy, reflexology i s to treat disorders by massaging and simulating points, usually on the hands and fe t, that correspond to specific internal organs. unlike acupressure and shiatsu, which originated in Asia, reflexology was developed by an American, Dr. William Fitzgerald, an ear nose, and throat specialist who introduced t e technique in 1913. Fitzgerald divided the body into 10 vertical zones through which he believed bio electrical energy flowed to specific points in the hands and feet. In the 1940s, Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist, refined Fitzgerald’s techniques, concentrating on pressure points i he feet. Today, reflexologists may use points in the feet, hands, ears, and elsewhere on the body, although foot massage remains the primary focus of the discipline. The basic techniques are finger walking, in which fingers are inched over the foot by bending and unbending the first joint; flexing, in which a thumb is pressed into the sole and the foot is then flexed several times; thumb walking, in which the thumb inched up the sole of the foot toward the toes; and finger rolling, in which the tip of each toe is massaged with the tip of the index finger.

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