Shiatsu massage is a hands-on healing technique with roots in East Asian medicine. This type of massage was developed in Japan, based on classical Chinese medicine and Japanese folk medicine. ‘Shi-atsu’ literally translates as ‘finger-pressure’. Although for many people the name shiatsu conjures up the image of a tiny man walking on someone’s back or pressing a point with all his might, this isn’t really the case. Shiatsu can be very deep, but it can also be quite gentle. Practitioners use pressure from fingers and thumbs, but also palms, and sometimes elbows and knees, combined with assisted stretches, to address the body as a whole. The work is deeply relaxing and can be helpful for those suffering from physical discomfort and pain, internal disorders, such as difficult digestion, or psycho-emotional issues, such as anxiety or insomnia.
What to Expect
Shiatsu is a clothed style of massage, performed on a futon mat on the floor. It differs from Western-style massage in that it does not require the use of oil or massage lotion, and the techniques emphasize pressing and stretching rather than rubbing or stroking. Shiatsu practitioners focus on maintaining constant contact with the client, which allows the receiver to feel supported and fully relaxed. The work tends to have a meditative, or even trance-like, quality. Sessions will often incorporate gentle abdominal massage, which is considered both diagnosis and treatment, pressure on acupuncture meridian pathways, and acupressure at acupuncture points.
A shiatsu treatment is a wonderful stress reliever, and although it can be intense, should never be painful. Clients report a sense of renewal and increased wellbeing during sessions. The variety of techniques and incorporation of acupressure and assisted stretches create a true mind-body experience.