finder

Shiatsu

What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
Side Effects/Cautions
Recommended Books


What Is It?
Shiatsu, meaning “finger pressure”, is a Japanese massage therapy which involves applying pressure to points on the body called “tsubos”. It combines energy balancing with healing touch. Shiatsu is similar to acupressure, but also uses relaxing massage and gentle stretching techniques to improve the flow of energy through the body.

The techniques used in shiatsu have been practised for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that shiatsu was recognised by the Japanese government as a therapy which promotes health and treats illness.

How Does It Work?
Shiatsu is based on the same meridian system of energy used in traditional Chinese medicine. Blockages in the flow of vital energy, ki (qi in Chinese), are thought to cause illness, and the aim of shiatsu is to remove those blockages. This is achieved by using the thumbs, fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet to manipulate pressure points known as tsubos (equivalent to acupoints) along the meridians, which correspond to other parts of the body. Rebalancing the flow of ki through the body enhances vitality and promotes natural healing.

Shiatsu may also work by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and lowering the level of stress hormones in the body.

top

What Happens During Treatment?
During your first visit your practitioner will take a medical history and ask about your diet, lifestyle and any specific health problems. S/he may examine your abdomen, back or 12 special pulses which correspond to the meridians, to assess the quality of energy in your body. You will normally be asked to wear loose, comfortable clothing for the session. Treatment usually takes place on a mat on the floor. You will spend some of the time on your back, some lying on your front, and some time sitting up while the practitioner works the shoulders.

Various techniques are employed, mostly involving the use of the fingers and thumbs to press, stretch or rotate parts of the body. Zen shiatsu practitioners use their whole bodies to apply pressure, while those using barefoot shiatsu use their feet as well as their hands.
Some people describe the experience of shiatsu as “pleasurable pain”, many feel relaxed during treatment and invigorated afterwards. The therapy may bring about the release of pent up emotions as related areas of tension are worked on.

top

What Is It Used For?
Shiatsu is recommended for general improvement of the circulatory, immune and nervous systems. It is particularly helpful for stress related problems, and may also help to relieve headaches, menstrual problems, constipation, back and neck pain, insomnia, chronic muscle tension, asthma, nausea and arthritis.

Side Effects/Cautions
Avoid shiatsu if you have open wounds, bone fractures, inflamed or injured areas, slipped disks, varicose veins, phlebitis or are prone to blood clots.

Avoid massage in the abdominal area if you are in the first trimester of pregnancy of have an abdominal hernia.

Some people report temporary “healing reactions” after a shiatsu session as toxins are released. These may include headaches or flu-like symptoms.

References

Find a Shiatsu Practitioner

top

 

Recommended Books

Prices are in US Dollars

 

The Complete Book of Shiatsu Therapy
Toru Namikoshi

"The Bible of shiatsu and acupressure. This book is exactly what any would-be practitioner of Shiatsu and acupressure needs. If you are just starting out, or if you've taken years of classes, Mr. Namikoshi will show you step-by-step exactly what points to hit, in what order for maximum effectiveness, and using what positioning of the body as well as the hands and fingers you are applying with. No homoeopathic practitioner should be without this book."

 Learn more...

 

 

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Shiatsu: The Japanese Healing Art of Touch for Health and Fitness
Elaine Liechti

"Elaine Liechti has done a wonderful job of sharing her passion and knowledge of shiatsu. This book is a complete, concise, yet easy-to-understand introduction to shiatsu; what it is, the history, the different schools of shiatsu, the basic principles, and how to do it. The book is well structured and has lots of diagrams, photos and illustrations to capture your interest. This book is certainly the most comprehensive and comprehensible book on shiatsu I have seen." - Caroline Bertorelli

 Learn more...

 

 

The Book of Shiatsu: A Complete Guide to Using Hand Pressure and Gentle Manipulation to Improve Your Health, Vitality and Stamina
Paul Lundberg

With shiatsu (a Japanese word meaning "finger pressure") you can release and stimulate the energy flowing through your body -- using just your hands and fingers -- to awaken your body's natural healing modalities. The Book of Shiatsu is the authoritative, step-by-step guide to this uniquely effective therapy. The techniques offered are simple and can be used to treat a variety of health problems, particularly:
• Arthritic conditions
• Backaches
• Emotional stress
• Headaches and migraines
• Intestinal disorders
• Menstrual and reproductive problems
• Muscular pain and tension
Here you'll find more than 240 colour drawings and photographs in a brand-new, accessible format, demonstrating how to give both whole-body and specialized massages, diagnose specific conditions, and work with the body's energy meridians to promote sustained health and well-being.

 Learn more...

 

More Shiatsu Books

top

 

<< Natural Therapies Index