Shiatsu Massage: An Effective Bodywork Therapy

The term “Shiatsu” is a Japanese term for finger pressure. It is a type of therapeutic bodywork that relies on pressing, kneading, tapping, stretching, and soothing techniques. This type of massage is conducted without the use of oils and is performed through comfortable clothing.

There are several forms of Shiatsu massage but all are based in three systems that were developed in Japan during the 1900s when a resurgence of traditional medical therapies such as acupuncture and anma massage were occurring. Shiatsu massage was born out of the union between western medical knowledge and traditional Japanese therapies.

In the United States, Shiatsu massage is regarded as a main therapy within the cluster of Asian Bodywork Therapy.

Principles of Shiatsu

A fundamental concept in both Japanese and Chinese medicine is Qi; also pronounced as “chee”. Qi is an important energy force that underlies all functioning within the body. Qi energy moves in specific paths called meridians. The Shiatsu therapist has to find the person’s Qi along special vital points across the meridian. A person is considered healthy if he or she has an abundance of Qi along the meridians and this flow is unhindered.

When Qi energy is out of balance, deficient, or experiences an obstruction in its flow, certain symptoms will arise. At first, this will emerge as minor symptoms such as touches of flu, body aches, colds, headaches, digestive complaints, muscular pains, etc. These are all signals which indicate an imbalance of Qi energy. When these subtle changes are ignored, it can lead to bigger and more complicated health issues like heart disease, diabetes, migraines, etc.

With Shiatsu massage, the flow of Qi is stimulated and synchronized. Shiatsu therapists are adept at recognizing patterns of imbalance in the human body, even before the symptoms of Qi obstruction appear. Shiatsu aims to restore balance within the body. Shiatsu therapists also provide activity and lifestyle recommendations along with regular massage sessions.

Benefits of Shiatsu for Health and Well Being

This is a type of non-invasive therapy. It is often used for its remedial and preventative effects. Shiatsu massage is used to treat an assortment of musculoskeletal, emotional, and internal conditions such as:

–         Aiding digestion

–         Reducing stress

–         Alleviating muscle stiffness

–         Stimulating blood flow

–         Activating the nervous system

Shiatsu may also be sought to treat several chronic conditions such as:

–         Anxiety

–         Stress

–         Premenstrual Syndrome

–         Insomnia

–         Joint pain

–         Fibromyalgia

–         Lower back pain

–         Constipation

–         Arthritis

–         Sinus problems

Shiatsu massage also promotes faster recovery from injuries.

Depending on the goal of the Shiatsu session, the effects may be calming, invigorating, or even sedative.

What to expect during a Shiatsu massage session?

At the start of the session, the therapist will evaluate your physical condition to figure the patterns of imbalance in Qi. This step is very important so that the therapist can provide an effective and therapeutic session. After determining these patterns, the therapist will devise a plan to give you the most healing benefits according to your needs.

There are many manual techniques involved in Shiatsu such as soothing, finger pressure, tapping, stretching, and kneading. These are all performed to access your Qi. If your Qi energy is low, the therapist will use techniques to energize or enhance your Qi. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed out, or wound-up, the therapist will use special techniques to diffuse this excess energy. This will help regulate your Qi energy.

Shiatsu therapists often recommend a routine maintenance program to maintain your vitality and wellness. This schedule will vary across individuals, however, one Shiatsu session every month is recommended. If your lifestyle lacks exercise, has a high-stress job, or you’re too occupied all the time, you may require more frequent Shiatsu massage sessions.

The general goal of every Shiatsu session is to alleviate physical/mental conditions, restore balance, and encourage good health.

Does Shiatsu Massage work?

Although research has been conducted on the benefits of Shiatsu massage, this information is limited. However, the studies that are available indicate that Shiatsu can treat conditions that cause pain. In a report published in 2015 in Manual Therapy, it was found that Shiatsu massage significantly improved the quality of life and pain intensity in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In fact, regular Shiatsu sessions increased patients’ pain thresholds, alleviated pain, improved sleep quality, lessened fatigue.

The Takeaway

The modern lifestyle is very prone to stress which can have significant consequent on your health. When this stress is left unchecked, it can increase your chances for ailments ranging from frequent cases of flu to chronic heart conditions. Luckily, bodywork therapies like Shiatsu massagers at home can help offset the damaging effects of stress. In fact, it can improve and restore your key energy force, or Qi.