What is the difference between acupuncture and acupressure?
Both are based on the same theories from Chinese Daoist theories and philosophy but acupressure contrasts with acupuncture in the absence of needles and because the client is touched in a highly supportive way. Though acupuncture is a very helpful therapy for many conditions, acupressure is even more effective for stress and tension related problems and emotional release. See www.nccaom.org for more information on acupuncture and other Eastern modalities.
What about Reiki--how does it compare to acupressure?
Humans have worked with the life force energy in different ways for thousands of years. This Life Force energy is known by different names in every culture: Ch’i or Qi in Chinese, Ki in Japanese, Prana in yogic traditions, Rlun in Tibet etc. Reiki is one way that has gained popularity in recent years; Qigong healing is also becoming more known in the USA, but has been used in China for centuries; others are Jin Shin Jyutsu, Therapeutic Touch, and so on. With these therapies the practitioner is either touching very lightly on the body or is working off the body. They are focused on working with the energy only. Acupressure works with the energy, but uses a more firm touch directly on the body using specific acu-points. Acupressure also includes full training of traditional Chinese acu-theory, which most of these energy therapies do not (with the exception of medical Qigong practitioners).
What about massage therapy—how does it compare to acupressure?
Massage uses gentle or firm touch, strokes, kneading and so on to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues. Sometimes therapists use deep techniques on trigger points (which often correlate to acu-points). Massage therapists usually use oil or lotion and the client is undressed or partially undressed--though always covered with a sheet and blankets. Western Massage therapists are not trained in traditional Chinese theory. See the website www.abmp.org for more information on massage.
What about other types of Asian bodywork therapy (ABT) such as Shiatsu?
ABT as defined by the AOBTA is any bodywork based on the knowledge of ancient Chinese medicine that works with the energy channels of the bodymind. Over the centuries, practitioners in China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, and more recently North America and Europe have changed and evolved these forms into separate and distinct modalites. Acupressure, Amma, Tuina, Traditional Thai bodywork, several different forms of Shiatsu, and Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® are all forms of ABT accepted by the AOBTA—see their web site for a more complete list.
Shiatsu is probably the most commonly know form in our country. Shiatsu generally is more fast paced than JSD, and more vigorous and meridian focused rather than acu-point focused. In JSD we hold specific acu-points in the local/distal method for a long time, thus it tends to allow a more trance like or meditative state. See www.aobta.org for more information on Asian Bodywork Therapy.
Why I love Jin Shin Do®:
I have studied or experienced many of these modalities--and don’t get me wrong—I love bodywork and energy work of all kinds! But one of the things that I really love about JSD—and why I decided to study and teach it is that it combines the best of acupuncture, Shiatsu, massage, and energy work. The gentle yet deep pressure of JSD focuses very precisely on the places that hurt or are tense (the local points) and uses the magic distal points which I find so incredibly effective in relieving my pain and tension. JSD is also the only modality I know of that actively combines both the ancient Eastern teachings and modern Western psychological teachings of body/mind/emotions/spirit. In addition, JSD addresses self-care and personal growth by including Qigong exercises and meditations. JSD helped me so much on my healing journey that I decided to study it so that I could assist my clients too. And then I decided to teach so I could assist even more people with the joys of JSD! See www.jinshindo.org for more information on JSD.
Have there been scientific studies on acupressure?
Yes, there have been numerous studies done that show that acupressure is effective for numerous conditions, including low back pain, nausea, headaches, anxiety and other health conditions. Though these studies are fairly limited they do show how beneficial this simple yet profound therapy is for wellness!
There have also been many studies that show the benefit of massage, acupuncture and healing touch. Please see the Resources page for references to science studies.
What should I do during the massage or bodywork session?
Prior to the massage, feel free to ask the practitioner any questions about the technique or the upcoming session. During the massage, make yourself comfortable. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax, communicating if/when they need more or less pressure, another blanket, or anything else relevant to the session. If you have any questions regarding the session or about the particular technique you are receiving, feel free to ask.
How will I feel after the massage or bodywork session?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days.
What are the benefits of massage and bodywork?
Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and reduce blood pressure. Massage and bodywork is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being.
Are there any medical conditions that would make massage or bodywork inadvisable?
Yes. That's why it's imperative that, before you begin your session, the practitioner asks general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor's care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to any session. Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.