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What is a Shiatsu Massage?

The Shiatsu massage originated in Japan and is considered a bodywork. What this massage does is work systematically to reduce stress and promote wellbeing in the body. Before we dive into the principles of Shiatsu, it’s very important to know how this massage works.

Techniques Incorporated in a Shiatsu Massage

A Shiatsu massage will include several different techniques that are all performed without any oils. Oftentimes, the massage is done through light clothing unlike other massages that are done directly on the skin. But, a direct skin massage does not alter the effectiveness of Shiatsu.

The word itself means “finger pressure” when translated, and incorporates pressing, soothing, kneading, tapping and stretching techniques.

All of these techniques are applied to the back to offer the full Shiatsu experience. The technique itself was developed in the early 1900s. There are many different styles that exist, with all styles offering slight variations of the original technique.

The idea was to mix Japanese manual therapies with western knowledge of the body.

All of the different techniques – the kneading, pressing, stretching, tapping and soothing – are what make this massage so different.

Shiatsu Massage

The Principles of Shiatsu

The entire premises of Shiatsu revolves around the vital energy of the body: Qi. Asian practitioners believe that this energy flows through vital points in the body called meridians. When the flow of Qi is out of balance or obstructed, the body will react in a negative way. These reactions can present themselves as illness or even pain.

Shiatsu techniques are performed by determining the disharmony in the body.

Imbalances are corrected as the practitioner, or massage chair for that matter, stimulates the energy in the body. This harmonizes it to allow Qi to flow freely and unobstructed through all of the meridians.

Studies are being actively conducted to determine if there is a scientific basis for Shiatsu, and Qi for that matter. As such, this is considered a massage, or a subset of acupuncture in some countries. The efficacy of Shiatsu therapy is actively being studied in Europe.

And, despite what the studies conclude, millions of people that have been massaged using these techniques swear by their effectiveness.

The Benefits of Shiatsu

So, what are the benefits of Shiatsu? This non-invasive therapy is effective at reducing stress and muscle-related pain like all massage types. There are a wide range of conditions that are also treated when these massages are performed, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive disorders
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Every therapy session will have a goal. A massage therapist would determine what is needed at the time of evaluation. This will result in an invigorating massage, a calming massage or a massage that is meant to stimulate the Qi in the body.

When the session is complete, the energy in the body will flow easier and meet the vital meridian points that require proper Qi balance.

It is recommended that you have a Shiatsu massage performed routinely with “maintenance” sessions performed to ensure Qi flow remains consistent. This will allow for the utmost health and wellness benefits.

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