Shiatsu is a traditional, Japanese healing method. Shiatsu means “finger pressure.” Unlike the massage techniques of the West, where kneading and friction is used, in Shiatsu pressure and stretching is the key. There are two major styles of Shiatsu, Namikoshi Shiatsu which has a foundation in Western anatomy and physiology and Masunaga Shiatsu, also known as Zen Shiatsu, which is based on Namikoshi Shiatsu, but with a stronger focus on Chinese/Japanese Medicine principles. In both styles, the therapist uses palms, fingers, thumbs, knuckles, elbows, knees and sometimes even feet, to work on pressure points on the body, through clothing, with the goal of restoring, maintaining and optimising health.
With Namikoshi Shiatsu the focus is specifically on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, the pressure is firm and deep and areas where there are active trigger points can be quite painful. The aim is to release tension in muscles and in the fascia. The relaxation and release may continue for a number of hours after the treatment is over.
With Masunaga Shiatsu the focus is more on the energetic system of the body, the meridians, 5 elements and with balancing yin and yang (homeostasis) within the body. The pressure is lightly firm. It has a gentler feel than Namikoshi Shiatsu, but the relaxation is just as deep as with Namikoshi Shiatsu.
A Shiatsu practitioner applies pressure to appropriate points to correct the injuries or imbalances. Through touch, two way communication greatly benefits the patient. Shiatsu works on the whole being, from the physical to the spiritual, so during and after the treatment a patient may experience a variety of reactions — crying, laughing, joy, stillness. These reactions are signs that the body is breaking through old energy patterns.
Major Characteristics of Shiatsu
- Diagnosis and therapy combined. Each application of Shiatsu pressure is diagnosis enabling the therapist to treat according to the body’s conditions.
- Using only hands and fingers, Namikoshi Shiatsu calls on the assistance of no mechanical devices or medicines.
- No side effects.
- No age limits. Shiatsu can be used on people of all ages ranging from young children to the elderly — pressure is modulated.
- Shiatsu is a health barometer. Regular Shiatsu helps detect bodily irregularities and prevent the accumulation of fatigue and the occurrence of illness.
- Shiatsu is effective because it treats the whole body.
What does Shiatsu feel like?
The Shiatsu therapist applies pressure using his or her fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous rhythmic sequence.
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” — “bad pain” is never a good thing and clients are encouraged to communicate with the therapist when pain is too much so that the therapist can adjust the pressure. Most people say Shiatsu is as relaxing as a classic forms of massage therapy.
What should you expect during your visit?
The treatment can be done on the floor, a low massage table, normal height massage table, in a chair or on a special massage chair. Unlike other forms of massage, with Shiatsu no massage oil is applied, so you remain fully clothed during the treatment. Some clients prefer to bring lose, comfortable clothing to wear during the treatment.
Some conditions Shiatsu can be used for?
Relaxation, back pain, headache, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, neck and shoulder pain, tiredness, recovery from injuries, stress, arthritis pain, poor digestion, constipation, depression, and more…
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 — very very light pressure can be applied
- 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 should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumours, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures