SHIATSU is a physical therapy that supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. It works on the whole person - not just with the physical body, but also with the psychological and emotional aspects of being.
Shiatsu originated in Japan from traditional Chinese medicine, with influences from more recent Western therapies. Although shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, in practice a practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. It is a deeply relaxing experience and regular treatments can alleviate stress and illness and maintain health and well-being.
As well as the points and meridians of acupuncture, work with the physical body, muscles, joints, and so on, is included.
Massage type strokes like kneading or effleurage are part of shiatsu. It is characterised by extensive use of pressure techniques over acupoints often done using thumb or palms. The pressure varies according to the person, the area of the body, and what the work is being done for. It can be very deep, and help ease out physical tensions. It can be very light and feel soothing.
It is often done on a futon on the floor rather than a massage table
People come to shiatsu for all kinds of reasons and they may come with specific ailments ranging from the acute to the more chronic from the more physical to the more emotional. They may come presenting with structural problems such as bad necks, backs or poor posture, as well as conditions like skin disorders, digestive problems and migraines or with more psychological issues such as depression or stress.
As shiatsu is simply working to support your body, then it can work alongside other approaches, whether they are more physically based or emotionally based.
Usually the session begins with some time for sharing any relevant issues, whether physical or emotional. so that the treatment can be tailored to your needs . This is followed by 40 -50 minutes of hands on work, a short rest and then feedback. Suggestions may be worked out together for exercises or activities which support the work of the session.
The work is usually done on a futon, a light cotton mattress on the floor. If people don’t want to, or are not able to, lie down, sitting or other positions can be used. It is recommended to wear loose fitting clothes; tracksuit bottoms or light cotton trousers are ideal. Avoid having a heavy meal before the session. It is advisable to rest for at least one hour afterwards, as the process continues after the actual session is over. The effects may be experienced immediately, or after several days.
The whole process is very individual and is tailored to each person’s needs. Most people begin coming at 2 or 3 week intervals. They may then decide to come monthly, or as they need to, which may only be every 6-8 weeks. In acute conditions, such as bad back, or severe depression, people will probably come weekly until they begin to feel better.
source text: wellmother.org, shiatsusociety.org