Stimulating these points with pressure, needles, or heat triggers the release of endorphins, which are the neurochemicals that relieve pain. As a result, pain is blocked and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing.
Because acupressure inhibits the pain signals sent to the brain through a mild, fairly painless stimulation, it has been described as closing the "gates" of the pain-signaling system, preventing painful sensations from passing through the spinal cord to the brain.
Your body is composed of a network of energy channels, also called “meridians,” which draw the vital life force, or “qi,” from food, air and your environment in general, according to Iona Teeguarden, a Jin Shin Do acupuncturist and co-author of “A Complete Guide to Acupressure.” When qi flows smoothly, you can easily maintain a state of health. When qi becomes blocked—often due to stress, change or injury—symptoms such as nausea can arise.
How It Works
When you press an acupressure point, you release physical tension in the muscles and allow blood to flow, notes Susan Lark, women’s health and preventive medicine expert and author of “Dr. Susan Lark’s The Estrogen Decision Self Help Book.” On a more subtle level, Lark notes, qi begins to flow freely, allowing the body and mind to return to a state of balance. One way to think of an acupressure point is as a valve that sits on an energy line. Massaging the point opens the valve, releasing any stagnation in the line and allowing qi flow to resume.