This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Acupressure is a type of bodywork that involves pressing specific points on the body with the fingers, knuckles, and palms (and sometimes the elbows and feet) to relieve pain, reduce stress, and promote general good health. Developed in China some 5,000 years ago, perhaps out of the natural human instinct to hold or rub a place on the body that hurts, acupressure is part of the holistic system of traditional chinese medicine (TCM) that also includes acupuncture. (Interestingly, the use of acupressure predates acupuncture by some 2,500 years.)
In the United States acupressure is primarily used to relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. In China, the technique is used more like first-aid: The Chinese typically practice it on themselves or on family members to treat everyday ailments such as colds, headaches, sore muscles, and hangovers. Specialists are consulted for more complicated problems.
While many people prefer to go to a trained therapist to get acupressure treatments, the techniques, once learned, can be performed on oneself or by a friend.