Therapist doing a pressure point massage on the womans hand

What is a pressure point?

A pressure point is a spot on the body that is sensitive to pressure. This can be a nerve cluster or sensitive areas of muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and veins. Pressure points are used by martial artists to cause pain or compliance in their opponents. They are also utilized in therapy and by masseuses. Acupressure and Shiatsu focus on pressure points to treat the human body.

Where are pressure points?

Pressure points are located all over the body. The most obvious ones are vulnerable areas such as the eyes, temples and solar plexus. Less obvious pressure points include the Achilles tendon, the meaty flesh next to your thumb and the spot directly under your ear. There are hundreds of other pressure points in every area of the body. They tend to be near joints and junctures.

Why do pressure points hurt?

When pressure is applied to a pressure point it pinches nerves or disrupts a normal operation of the body. When a nerve is pinched against a bone or muscle it shoots an electronic signal of pain to the brain. When blood flow or air is cut off, the body reacts with pain to urge the body to restore normal function. Pain is also the reaction when joint pressure points are pushed to the limit to warn people that damage may occur if the pressure is not removed. Most people react to pressure points, but between 10-15 percent of the population are resistant and don't feel much pain.

Pressure points and martial arts

Martial artists study pressure points as a way to easily subdue or repel an opponent. They have developed techniques to attack pressure points so that an attacker stops and provides no resistance. Since pressure points are very sensitive, it requires a minimum of effort to cause pain. Martial artists can therefore defend themselves against much larger and stronger opponents by manipulating pressure points.

Pressure points and massage

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese treatment. It is similar to acupuncture except pressure is used on the pressure points instead of needles. It strives to balance the Eastern concepts of yin, yang and chi. The theory is that the body should be in harmony and irregularities can be corrected with acupressure. Shiatsu is a similar and more recently developed treatment from Japan. The major difference is that Shiatsu is both therapy and diagnosis. Shiatsu techniques strive to correct problems that the therapist doesn't even know exist.