Acupressure was discovered over 5,000 years ago. The exact date is unknown, but what is known is that was originally discovered by generals on the battlefields of Asia. They discovered that to ease soldiers' suffering and injuries, they could place sharp stones or sharpened bamboo sticks into the skin at certain points of the body, called acupuncture. Eventually the craft was honed and evolved from using stones and stick to using fish bones, and then on to needles. It's important to understand that while these are the earliest known uses of acupuncture, the Chinese were not the only ones practicing this healing technique. The peoples of India, Alaska, Egypt, and others also had discovered very similar techniques and have been using them for thousands of years.
However, Chinese medicine practices continued virtually unknown in the United States until the 1970s, when Richard Nixon made the first ever presidential to visit China. During that trip, journalists were amazed to observe and report major operations being performed on patients without the use of anesthetics. Wide-awake and coherent patients were being operated on, chatting with their doctors! Only acupuncture needles were inserted into them to control pain. Then, back in the states, a columnist for the New York Times named James Reston decided to undergo a required surgery and elected to use only acupressure for anesthesia. Later, he wrote some convincing stories on its effectiveness and his ability to observe his own operation without pain. There was no recovering from medication, and his healing time was cut down by almost a third of the recorded normal time.
In times of emergency, when a sharp object was not available for the performance of acupuncture, pressure was applied by hand, elbow, or other device to points with the same effect. Some historians believe this technique actually predates the use of acupuncture, but there is not much evidence to prove it one way or the other.
Today acupressure and acupuncture have become the third most popular method of treating pain and illness in the world, and is practiced as a treatment by Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists, as well as by massage therapists. In fact, most massage schools in America now include acupressure techniques as part of their bodywork programs.
The first step is successful acupressure is ensuring safety. Do not attempt to perform acupressure to induce labor before reading the basic precautions here.