Our body is an intricate web of organs, blood vessels, tissues, bones, and fluids. Like a machine, our body is programmed to work at optimum levels when all parts are at their best health. But try as we might, it is not always possible to be in the best of health. Some health issues are out of our control; they may be hereditary or caused unknowingly because of our lifestyle or profession. Others can be controlled to a certain extent if we watch what we eat and drink, and the lifestyle we adopt.

At the base of it all, however, if the desperation people have to find respite from the symptoms of their illnesses. A person suffering from severe joint aches due to osteoporosis would want a respite from the pain just as much as someone suffering from fibromyalgia. While it may be easy and convenient to pop pills and inject ourselves with chemicals to relieve some of the pain, wouldn’t it be better to use an alternative method that not only helps with pain and stress, but with a number of other problems?

Massages to the Rescue

Massages are known to be extremely relaxing and helpful in revitalizing us when our energy levels are low. They are included as a complimentary service when someone books an expensive hotel room, or part of a relaxing day at spas. But not many know that massages also have tremendous health benefits.

Thanks to the world becoming a global village, there are several alternative options that have come to the limelight from far off Asian countries. One such miracle, and most widely prescribed massage type that has its origins in Japan is the shiatsu massage. Known to be one of the oldest forms of ‘anma’ massages, it relies on in-depth knowledge of a person’s health problems as well as physiology.

In simple terms, shiatsu massage focuses on removing the blockages that prevent the life force that courses within our body, known as Qi (pronounced as ‘chi’) from flowing freely. These are not physical blockages necessarily, but those conditions which prevent the free flow of our body’s energy, blood, and vitality to every tip. Some of the common reasons which prevent our body from functioning properly are:

a. Chronic pain

b. Stress

c. Anxiety

d. Improper or inadequate nutrition

e. Unhealthy life habits, such as lack of exercising and not maintaining a regular sleeping schedule

Apart from the above reasons, we also have serious health conditions and accidents or mishaps which contribute to the problem. While surgeries and medicines form an important part of tackling all of them, shiatsu massages provide additional relief. Although the wonders of this massage are yet to be properly documented in Western medical journals, several medical professionals recommend patients undergo this massage to accelerate the benefits of their regular medical care, such as surgeries and medicines. Countries such as Switzerland, Germany, and Austria in addition to their Asian counterparts have included this form of massage in their national public health care regimen.

How Does Shiatsu Massage Help?

A professional shiatsu masseuse first understands the pain points of a person – not the physical ‘points’ literally, but the problematic conditions that a person suffers due to underlying causes. For example, a person may suffer from frequent bouts of allergy attacks or fevers due to an unhealthy diet. While the massage cannot miraculously change a person’s lifestyle choices, it does alleviate the symptoms of the allergy attack.

Once the professional knows which are the focus areas, he/she creates the best way to go about giving the massage. It is important to remember that it can be customized to suit the person’s needs. If a person feels lackluster in general in life, or has a tendency to be sad or worried more than energetic or optimistic on a regular basis, then the massage would aim to work on his mood. On the other hand, people who struggle from an excess of nervous energy which brings on panic attacks or episodes of depression need a massage that calms them down. Shiatsu can be modified to suit people in both categories.

An important thing to remember is that our problems tend to flow in a cyclic manner. Even those suffering from health problems that cannot always be avoided benefit tremendously from shiatsu massages, whereas those who do not get this massage done usually have a tougher time managing their pain and stress levels. For example, a person who struggles with pain in their lower back over a period of time would start feeling stressed and anxious because of the chronic pain. These, in turn, would lead him to sleep poorly and prevent him from exercising or engage in productive physiotherapeutic sessions. All these factors lead to body pain being felt more acutely, and even spreading to other parts of the body. With the help of shiatsu massage, the cycle is broken because it helps them manage their pain and stress in a much better manner.

This form of massage focuses on clearing the path rather than just stretching our limbs or applying pressure on important points of our body. With the use of fingers, knuckles, palms, elbows, knees, and feet, the masseuse applies the adequate amount of pressure in the right manner, usually for 2-8 seconds. People who want to enjoy the benefits of this massage to the maximum are advised to wear simple, thing clothing, and are usually on a low platform or on a mat on the floor.

Some of the better-known benefits of shiatsu are:

a. People recovering from injuries or surgeries heal faster

b. Chronic pain can be managed much better without increasing the intake of painkillers of any form. Many people have also reported a better pressure pain threshold after a 20-30 minute massage on a regular basis, say once a week or month, depending on what their doctor prescribes

c. Improved digestive system

d. A healthy lymphatic system, which means reduced inflammation

e. Healthy blood supply to all parts of our body means lesser skin diseases and more of supple, glowing skin

f. Feeling energetic rather than dull and lifeless in general

g. Feeling relaxed enough to improve the quality and period of rest and sleep

h. A better handle on situations that cause stress and anxiety