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What are the Different Types of Acupressure Therapy?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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The techniques of acupressure therapy used today are derived from ancient Chinese medicinal practices. Application of pressure to various points on the body is thought to help balance energy throughout the body and relieve tense muscles and stress. While all types of acupressure therapy use light to firm touches on various pressure points, there are different styles of therapy used by acupressure practitioners. Some practitioners specialize in only one type of therapy, while others perform different techniques depending on the client's desires and needs. The most common types of acupressure therapy are shiatsu, Tui Na, and Jin Shin Jyutsu.

Shiatsu massage originated in Japan and was officially recognized as a form of acupressure therapy by the Japanese government in 1964. The practice of shiatsu incorporates traditional acupressure techniques of applying pressure with the fingertips to various pressure points on the body in rhythmic patterns. Many forms of shiatsu also include stretches and mental meditation exercises to facilitate the flow of energy, or ki, through the body. Shiatsu acupressure therapy is split into several subsets that employ slightly different techniques, such as Namikoshi shiatsu, hara shiatsu, and Zen shiatsu.

Tui Na is similar to a traditional massage with various types of pressure being applied to the client's body other than just prods with the fingertips. This form of acupressure therapy incorporates rubbing and kneading motions to stimulate circulation and help treat pain, inflammation, stiffness, and tension in the muscles and joints. Some practitioners claim Tui Na can help with other chronic problems, such as migraines and constipation, as well. In China and some other Asian countries, the practice of Tui Na includes bone work and manipulation, similar to the work performed by physical therapists or chiropractors, though this type of work is not typically done by acupressure therapists in the Western world.

The Jin Shin Jyutsu form of acupressure therapy concentrates on 26 specific energy points throughout the body. Jin Shin Jyutsu is an ancient form of acupressure, but it became more popular when it was rediscovered in the early 1900s by a Japanese healer. These points are thought to be connected by energy pathways that can become blocked, which can lead to physical problems and mental or spiritual disharmony. Acupressurists who practice this type of therapy use both hands to focus on specific points to open up energy channels. The pressure used in Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments is gentle because the therapy does not focus on the skeletal system or muscles and is more of a philosophical and spiritual form of acupressure treatment.

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