What Is Shiatsu Massage?


The practice of Shiatsu Massage is an Asian form of body work involving the use of the fingers, thumbs and palms to stimulate the energy pathways in the human body known as the Meridians.  It is a form of eastern energy healing, and originates from traditional Japanese medicinal practices.

Shiatsu Massage – How it Works

Since Shiatsu has its roots in acupuncture, the Shiatsu techniques bear a resemblance to that acupuncture in that it stimulates the energy points which run along the bodies meridians. You could say that Shiatsu is like acupuncture without the needles.

Some people refer to it as Acupressure. Used to stimulate the flow of the human body’s Qi, Shiatsu massage is performed using both hands while applying pressure along prescribed points on the meridians.

The 12 primary meridians run symmetrically within your body and allow your life force energy to move in a circular pattern.  Each of the twelve meridian lines has branches, or tributaries, that run out of the main line.

There are specific points along these lines and their branches where Asian theory believes the energy can become blocked.  Shiatsu massage helps break up the blockages to keep the energy flowing in a smooth fashion. Keeping the Qi flowing, like water through a river, is believed to keep the Yin/Yang balance in place as well.

Shiatsu Massage – Benefits

Shiatsu massage helps move the body’s energy force, or Qi (chee) also called chi or Ki (Key), to keep it flowing in a healthy way throughout the body. A few of the ailments that Shiatsu Massage may help relieve are:

  • Shiatsu MassageHeadaches
  • Stress Reduction
  • Menstrual Distress
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Chronic Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional Issues

It also helps to promote blood circulation within the body, boost the immune system, and stimulate healthy digestion.  When you receive Shiatsu Massage regularly, your overall health will improve over time.  As the body begins to adjust from the treatments, you notice you will be calmer and more relaxed, all while enjoying the benefits of being energized and balanced.

Training in Shiatsu

Shiatsu is passed on from other trained Shiatsu practitioners.  If you are interested in learning Shiatsu massage, you can attend classes or workshops that teach the theory of  the practice and demonstrate, with hands on presentations, how to properly administer the treatments. Upon completion of training,  you are awarded a Certificate of achievement and mastery.

Zen Shiatsu

While the practices are similar, the Zen Shiatsu practitioner uses full body stretches as part of the treatment procedures, while also incorporating the hand, finger and palm therapy of common Shiatsu.  They are also trained in traditional Zen meditation practices and will apply their meditative techniques to the practice of Shiatsu.

It is not required for you to use Zen meditation practices during a session, but if you are versed in this technique then you could certainly could put that into practice for even added benefit.

Zen Shiatsu practitioners use one hand to stimulate the meridians while the other hand is their guide, or sounding board, as to the depth and pressure in which to use.  You and the practitioner communicate with each other to additionally confirm the appropriate depth and pressure. You know your body best and your input is valuable.

Another unique technique in Zen Shiatsu is for the you to use your breath to direct energy into the location needing healing.  This helps the client to relax into the treatment and the increased oxygen in the body, from the focused breathing, helps with circulation.

Zen Shiatsu also uses full body stretches to stimulate the stagnant Qi and to help it to flow freely.  The Yin/Yang balance is best achieved when the Qi is flowing in harmony with the natural rhythms of the body.

Shiatsu Massage and its Practicalities?

What is Shiatsu Massage

Relaxing Massage Therapy

Shiatsu massage is practiced differently than the more common massage you might receive at a spa or gym. In spots massage the body is massaged with oils or lotions and requires the client to be partially or completely naked.  They rest on a massage table draped by a sheet while the massage therapist manipulates the muscles and connective tissues to initiate a relaxing effect on the body.

In Shiatsu massage the body is fully clothed and the procedures are performed while the patient is lying on the floor on some type of mat for comfort.  If the client is unable to lie on the floor, the techniques may be used while they are seated in a chair.  The client is massaged using the pressure of the hands to manipulate energy at specific points along the meridians.

Shiatsu Massage Chair

A person could also get the benefits of a Shiatsu massage at home with the use of a shiatsu massage mat or a shiatsu massage chair.  Both of these methods were developed to massage the acupressure points along the meridians just as a Shiatsu practitioner might do in a live treatment.

An at home massage mat or chair is very convenient as trips to and from a spa or treatment center can be time consuming. Plus, you can get the benefits of Shiatsu when ever you want and how often you want.

Shiatsu massage is a growing method of practice with energy and body workers.  It is recognized as a complimentary or alternative form of healing, and has become recognized as particularly effective when used with traditional medical techniques as a way to keep the body healthy.


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