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Types Of Bodywork/Modalities

Acupressure - Acupuncture

All forms of acupressure are based on working with the meridian and acupoint structure of the body associated with traditional needle acupuncture. Some modalities are point specific where others work with the entire meridian. Most people tend to think of acupressure as being an offshoot or subset of acupuncture. The truth is that literature in China on acupuncture goes back 2500 years. Literature on acupressure goes back 5000. In other words, acupressure predates acupuncture.

Acupressure derives from and is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. A key underlying premise is that the human body is more than just the physical - there is also an energetic body and that restrictions and blockages in the energetic body can manifest themselves in the physical.

It has long been known through western medical research that acupuncture in some fashion causes the body to release endorphins, the bodyís natural opiate. This has been considered the primary reason why it is effective for pain management. Recent research at the University College London, Southampton University, and the University of York in the UK also found that needling at superficial levels activated motor areas of the cerebral cortex. This is a normal and expected reaction to pain. Deep needling, however, deactivated the brainís Limbic System. Research at the Harvard Medical School has also demonstrated changes in the brainís limbic system from acupuncture. The growing consensus is that acupuncture in some fashion has a measurable effect on the human brain that changes a personís perception of pain.

I frequently get asked about acupuncture in general. I generally tell people who are considering trying it to find out where their Licensed Acupuncturist (LAC) was trained Ė the United States or China. One of the main failings with MOST acupuncture programs in the United States (not all, but definitely most), is their failure to teach their students how to actually sense or feel the chi with their hands. They do it by the book, mechanical insertion of needles, and that's it. This can be and is very effective. But it is no where near as effective as it could and should be.

What most practitioners and teachers of energy work fail to grasp is how important it is to first entrain the energy fields of the practitioner/client. Without that entrainment, the work is just mechanical and the critical dynamic of interacting fields is missing. And entrainment is more than just grounding and centering yourself before starting the work. I have had several students of and even LACs as classmates in the last three years. Every one of them completely agreed with me on this point, about needing to learn how to actually feel the energy.

In terms of actual hands-on work, all forms of acupressure use various combinations of single points, patterns of points, or stretching of the associated meridians to release tension in various parts of the body and to clear up energetic blockages. The main distinctions among the different modalities are how they approach and apply point selection. Some work only with the 14 main meridians while others focus more on the 8 strange flows. Some work with individual points while others ALWAYS use two or more points at the same time. Some apply direct pressure to specific points and others (such as Shiatsu and Thai massage) generally use stretching techniques.


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