Many chair masseurs use acupressure, a Japanese style of massage using the same pressure points as in acupuncture. This is very different to traditional couch massage, which is often known as 'Swedish massage'. Acupressure, sometimes dubbed 'coffee break massage', originated in the US, where it was devised as a quick stress-reliever for high-powered professionals too busy even to leave their desks.
Acupressure focuses on muscles in the back, arms, hands, shoulders, neck and head, where tension and pain often build up in desk-bound staff working under pressure. According to the UK training organisation, the Academy of On-Site Massage, acupressure uses more than 100 different stress release points on the head, neck, shoulders, arms and back. This is intended not only to relax tense and aching muscles, but to release energy and invigorate both mind and body.
The masseur uses hands, thumbs and even elbows to knead, prod, pull and stretch the muscles. This can feel a little painful but should not be uncomfortable. Some chair masseurs combine acupressure with more traditional massage methods or with aromatherapy.