Shiatsu is a form of therapeutic bodywork from Japan. It uses kneading, pressing, soothing, tapping, and stretching techniques and is performed without oils through light, comfortable clothing.
"Shiatsu" translates as "finger pressure." There are different styles of Shiatsu, all of which have roots in one of three systems that developed in Japan in the early 1900s as a result of a resurgence of Japan's traditional medical therapies, including acupuncture and anma massage. Shiatsu developed at this time from the integration of traditional Japanese manual therapies with modern western medical knowledge.
In the U.S., Shiatsu is one of the main therapies within the larger profession of Asian Bodywork Therapy.
How can Shiatsu benefit your health and wellbeing?
Shiatsu is a non-invasive therapy that may help reduce stress and contribute to overall wellbeing. Proponents believe that it has both preventative and remedial effects.
Shiatsu can be used in the treatment of a wide range of internal, musculoskeletal, and emotional conditions. It is thought to reduce muscle stiffness, stimulate the skin, aid digestion, and influence the nervous system. Shiatsu is used to treat a wide range of chronic conditions, such as headaches, PMS, digestive disorders, fatigue, insomnia, fibromyalgia, stress, anxiety, and muskuloskeletal pain, including low back, neck, and joint pain.
The effect may be stimulating and invigorating or calming and sedative, depending on the goal of the session.
What are the principles of Shiatsu?
One of the fundamental concepts of Chinese/Japanese medicine is Qi (pronounced "chee"). This is the vital energy in our body that underlies all functioning.
Qi flows in specific pathways called meridians. The Shiatsu therapist accesses the Qi through points along the meridians called Vital Points. Health is present when there is abundant Qi in the meridians and the flow is unobstructed. When the Qi becomes deficient or out of balance, or the flow is obstructed, symptoms arise. Seemingly minor signs emerge, such as regular colds and flus, weekly or daily headaches, body aches and muscular pain, or digestive difficulties. These are indications of the imbalance of Qi. Shiatsu stimulates and harmonizes the flow of Qi throughout the body.
The Shiatsu therapist is trained to recognize patterns of disharmony in the body, even prior to physical signs appearing. Simple yet subtle changes are indications of an imbalance that, left alone, may progress to a point where symptoms appear. Balance can be restored with proper assessment and regular Shiatsu sessions. Shiatsu practitioners may also offer lifestyle and activity recommendations.