Acupressure is a specific hands-on massage technique based on a theory of traditional Chinese medicine. According to this type of bodywork, twelve main channels of energy flow through the body. Along these pathways, also called meridians, the body’s vital energy, or ch’i, is carried to different areas of the body. Acupressure for feet is just one of several techniques utilized to maintain the flow of ch’i, the body’s “life force”.
Each meridian travels to a precise area of the body. When a blockage of ch’i occurs it can open the body up to illnesses and disease. Applying direct pressure techniques to distinct points along these channels, called acupoints, can release any obstructions and restore the natural flow of vital energy. In turn, this can restore the body’s overall homeostasis, or balance. Acupressure is a less invasive spin-off of acupuncture where needles are inserted into acupoints.
This method of healing can be used on any part of the body. Utilizing acupressure for feet, however, is based on a theory that the feet contain an entire map of the body, and the place where each of the twelve meridians runs. Using this concept that the meridians act somewhat as a communication system for the body, much like the telephone wires connecting towns together, acupressure for feet can essentially release ch’i flow and influence any part of the body.
Similar to the principles of reflexology, where there are specific points on the body that have a direct affect other parts of the body, acupressure for feet can help relieve a wide variety of symptoms occurring anywhere in the body. For example, applying direct pressure techniques to the balls of the toes can help relieve problems with the frontal sinuses. For stomach ailments, there is an acupoint along the arch of the foot. Shoulder problems can be alleviated through acupressure for feet to the fatty pad directly below the pinky toe.
To effectively apply acupressure to the feet, an individual should have a basic understanding of the “map” of the foot. Improper placement of direct pressure techniques to certain areas of the foot can cause damage to the tissues and the surrounding areas. Take the acupoint along the arch of the foot, for example: if too much pressure is used, it can irritate the underlying structures such as the fascia, or network of fibrous tissue running through the arch. Applying acupressure for feet can also bring about tenderness and bruising if pressure is too hard. Depending on the area, extreme force may also cause an impingement of blood flow if performed improperly.