Shiatsu is a Japanese form of bodywork. The word shiatsu means "finger pressure", and shiatsu is sometimes described as a finger pressure massage. The goal of Shiatsu is to restore the balance of energy in the body. The part of Shiatsu and acupuncture believe that disease and physical infirmities are caused by imbalances or blockages in the flow of energy through the body. This energy is called “ki” which flows through the body along meridians or energy channels. Practitioners strive for a balance between Yin (negative energy) and Yang (positive energy) and attempt to determine where there may be a build up of energy or an energy deficiency. Either will cause problems.
How does shiatsu work?
Like acupuncture, shiatsu is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine, where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi (pronounced "chee") through the body.
Shiatsu therapists use finger and palm pressure to energetic pathways, called meridians to improve the flow of qi.
A scientific explanation is that shiatsu calms an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which improves circulation, relieves stiff muscles, and alleviates stress.
Natural body weight is used when pressure is applied on special points on the body. Through this pressure the energy flowing in the meridians is influenced. This energy is called chi. Chi by itself is invisible, but the way chi works can be seen in the body. When a wound is healing 'just by itself' it is the work of chi. Traditionally everything was seen as an expression of chi. Chi is the origin, the power of live. When chi stagnates, the body becomes ill. Meridians are channels of chi. Sometimes they follow the same line as muscles or blood-vessels.
The functions of the meridians is:
- control the movement in the body (blood, gas, air, water) - connect the arms, legs and head with the trunk - communication from inside to the outside of the body (and from the outside to the inside) and from up to down (and from down to up) - control the regulation of the organs.
There are twelve main meridians. Each meridian corresponds with an organ and is named after that specific organ. Triple heater however is an exception. This meridian corresponds with the relationship between a few organs.
The meridian is not only connected to the organ, but also to the eastern concept of the function of that organ. Large intestine for example takes care of secretion. Emotionally it is related with lost, parting e.g. A collector can have problems like constipation. Spending a lot of money also can effect the large intestine.
What does shiatsu feel like?
The shiatsu therapist applies pressure using his or her fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous rhythmic sequence. Shiatsu does not use the rubbing and kneading technique of Swedish massage but applies pressure using almost any part of the therapist’s body including arms, legs, fingers, hands, feet, elbows, toes, etc. The therapist locates a particular point along one of the body’s meridians and applies pressure to that area, attempting to restore balance to the flow of energy. The pressure can be applied gently with the fingers or may be applied forcefully with the point of the elbow depending on the location of the point and the severity of the blockage. The therapist may also incorporate stretching, holding or rotating various parts of the body
The pressure feels more localized, because unlike other types of massage, the finger pads are used to apply pressure for most of the treatment instead of the entire palm.
Certain pressure points may feel tender, which some people describe it as "good pain."
If you feel any discomfort or pain during the treatment, tell the therapist and it will be adjusted so that it is comfortable to you.
Most people say shiatsu is as relaxing as a classic forms of massage therapy.
What should I expect during my visit?
The treatment is done on a low massage table or on the floor.
Unlike other forms of massage, with shiatsu no massage oil is applied, so you remain fully clothed during the treatment. You may be asked to bring comfortable clothing to wear.
The practitioner will use their fingers and thumbs to apply pressure to specific points on the body's energy pathways, known as meridians. They often use other techniques such as rocking, stretches and joint rotations.
Shiatsu treatment is holistic, addressing the whole body rather than focusing on the one area where symptoms are most obvious.
A shiatsu session usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.
What conditions is shiatsu used for?
Neck and shoulder pain
Recovery from injuries
Shiatsu is not recommended for certain people:
infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
immediately after surgery
immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
people with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before having shiatsu
prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having shiatsu
pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting any type of massage or bodywork. Shiatsu in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
shiatsu should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
The shiatsu treatment can be combined with my other healing and massage therapies.