Acupressure is a type of alternative medicine technique with similar principles to acupuncture. It’s based on the concept of ‘life energy flowing through the body’s meridians. The body’s meridians are the body’s pathways where life energy (qi) flows.
Acupressure has several roots in Chinese medicine. Its traditional Chinese medicine theory describes special acupoints or acupressure points that life within meridians in the body. All of the same points are associated with those of acupuncture.
As mentioned, meridians are the body’s channels where qi or life energy flows through. Twelve individual meridians exist within the body, all of which connect specific organs (or organ networks) together, forming a system that allows all of the body’s systems to effectively communicate with one another.
The meridians are known to start from the fingertips, connect to the brain and then connect to a specific organ associated with its corresponding meridian.
According to traditional Chinese theory, illness may occur when any of those meridians get blocked or get forced out of balance. Both acupuncture and acupressure help relieve those conditions and help restore balance to the body’s meridians.
How acupressure works
Practitioners of acupressure use their palms, fingers, elbows and even feet to apply pressure on the body’s acupoints. Some even use special devices to apply pressure onto the acupoints of the body. Acupressure also involves stretching and/or performing massages, in addition to other methods that allow them to apply pressure to the body.
A basic acupressure session starts with the patient lying on a massage table before the session starts. The practitioner, after preparing the patient, starts applying gentle pressure on the acupressure points of the body. Most sessions last as long as an hour, though some people will need several sessions to get the best results.
The main goal of acupressure sessions is to help restore the body’s health. It also helps restore the balance the body’s energy channels, while also regulating the opposing forces of negative energy and positive energy, respectively known as yin and yang.
Some supporters of acupressure also claim that acupressure helps treat the mind, emotions and spirit alongside the body. Many even believe acupressure therapists help transmit vital energy or external qi to another person.
In most cases, acupressure practitioners attribute the positive results to the effects of having acupressure performed on the body. Those positive effects generally include reduced muscle tension, improved blood circulation or a stimulation of the body’s endorphins.
All of those effects happen to be known as natural ‘pain relievers’ of the body. Going by that information, it seems like acupressure might be a good treatment option for people with lower back pain. In the next section, let’s see why that might be the case.
Acupressure and lower back pain
Acupressure is known to help treat lower back pain. Some may attribute this to acupressure’s stimulating effects on specific areas of the body. As a result, it causes those areas to have improved blood circulation and less overall tension.
Lower back pain is caused by various factors. The most common factor is aging, especially since both muscle elasticity and bone strength tend to decrease the older people get. The spinal discs of the back also start to lose their fluid and flexibility, causing their vertebrae cushioning ability to significantly decrease.
Most instances of lower back pain are believed to be caused by muscle or skeletal issues, including strains or sprains within the lower back area. Poor physical conditioning, poor posture or sleeping positions, stress, pregnancy and other factors are known to contribute to the development of lower back pain. Sometimes, lower back pain is caused by conditions, including osteoarthritis, spinal disc degeneration or a spinal disc herniation.
Acupressure, lower back pain and evidence?
Acupressure is known to help treat lower back pain. A study published by the British Medical Journal found that ‘acupressure may be more effective in helping reduce lower back pain than physical therapy.
The study involved Taiwanese researchers who recruited 129 patients with chronic lower back pain. All of the patients completed a standard questionnaire concerning their disability, and then were later randomly assigned to two different treatment groups. Out of the original 129, 64 patients ended up receiving six sessions of acupressure, while the remaining 65 received physical therapy to treat their lower back pain.
According to the results of the research trial, the patients who receive acupressure instead of physical therapy had a ‘lower mean disability score than those who received physical therapy.’
The study showed that acupressure presented an 89 percent reduction in disability in comparison to physical therapy. The results from the acupressure were said to last as long as six months.
Those results more or less support acupressure as an effective treatment for lower back pain. It might involve acupressure’s ability to target specific meridian points of the body that may help those areas of the body receive better circulation and reduced tension.
Lower back pain and acupressure points
We’ve talked about how acupressure helps relieve lower back pain. So, now let’s look at the different acupressure points within the body that target lower back pain.
Sea of Vitality
This is a group of four acupressure points that resides nearby the spine and rib cage.
All four lie on either side of the spine, in pairs. They reside lie below the last rib (about a half-inch to 1 inch above the waist. All for pressure points are used to help relieve lower back pain.
This acupressure point lies at the bottom of the biggest calf muscle, halfway between the knee’s crease and heel. It’s most useful for relieving leg pains like knee pain and calf cramping, but it’s also used for relieving lower back pain.
These points lie within the sacrum, in between the lower back’s and tailbone’s indentations. They’re best used for relieving lower back and hip pain, but they also help relieve menstrual cramps for women.