What is Japanese Shiatsu, and how does it work?
The Shiatsu massaging technique is only recently becoming increasingly popular in the western world, despite the fact that it is extremely popular through Asian and it’s roots can be traced back to the times of ancient Japan, where the technique was first used around two thousand years ago!
Shiatsu in Japanese translates as ‘finger pressure’, although the technique in itself does not limit itself solely to using one’s fingers. In fact Shiatsu massages can also involve the use of elbows, knuckles, knees or feet to induce pressure on areas that require treatment.
Shiatsu massages are great to help relieve muscle tension, promote better blood circulation and have also been proven to energise and invigorate when administered correctly.
Shiatsu is essentially based on the notion of ‘Qi’ (pronounced “Chee”) that depicts one’s energy flow which, if disturbed, can lead a person to perceive illnesses or injuries. Shiatsu massages work around the ‘Qi’ which flows through the so called ‘meridian channels’ or vital points of the body. Blockages and imbalances are freed up through pressure stimulation on the various ‘acupressure points’ composing a meridian channel, thereby reinstating energy into the parts of the body that need it most.
Meridian channels are used to locate any knots or points of tension which might be located in a particular area of the body; depending on the exact meridian channel in use, the precise placement and the organ used to apply the pressure can greatly differ.
Shiatsu therapists are specifically trained to identify disharmony in your Qi flow, sometimes even prior to the appearance of any physical signs or pain.
During your first session, a therapist will evaluate any discernible patterns of imbalance in your Qi, and will then establish a therapeutic treatment plan that suits you best.
Shiatsu therapists will then use a variety of manual techniques (e.g. kneading, pressure, stretching or tapping) and initiate the treatment through using of their body parts (e.g. fingers, elbows, knuckles, knees, feet) to help relieve any tensions and imbalances in your Qi flow.
What are Shiatsu Massages good for?
Shiatsu therapy is a non-invasive method of massaging that positively contributes to your general wellbeing. It’s effects on the body are many and among which, most notably, are it’s stress reducing and mood improving abilities are often praised by proponents.
Shiatsu therapy is not only a great way to achieve relaxation or to feel more invigorated, it also holds remedial, as well as preventative properties, that can prove to be beneficial for the treatment of an array of injuries and illnesses.
Shiatsu therapy is particularly good for the treatment of muscle stiffness, but can also help remediate problems relating to digestion, or even treat minor disorders that relate to the nervous system.
Shiatsu massages are highly effective for the treatment of muscle aches since the stimulation offered by the massage helps facilitate blood circulation which can help in the recovery of minor muscle injuries as well.
Chronic pain can also be treated with the use of Shiatsu therapy and it can be especially beneficial for those suffering from fibromyalgia. The reduction of muscle or joint aches through Shiatsu massages can be of great help to those suffering from chronic pain that resides in specific and targetable areas of their body.
Shiatsu foot massages can also help relieve both foot injuries and knee aches through tactile stimulation which improves blood circulation in these areas. Reducing the effects caused by chronic pain will then provide added benefits such as lower stress levels, as well as a better and more restful sleep.
Chronic pain sufferers aren’t the only ones that could benefit from the healing properties of Shiatsu therapy. Other health benefits from Shiatsu massages include the relief of stress, the treatment of anxiety, and the treatment of sleeping issues such as insomnia. A deeper and more relaxing sleep is a common after effect of a Shiatsu massage, which in itself has many benefits for the body.
The sensorial stimulation provided through shiatsu therapy triggers a mechanism in our body that secretes serotonin and dopamine, which, promotes a state of relaxation and also helps in the reduction of stress. Along with it’s serotonin and dopamine increasing properties, Shiatsu therapy also has been proven to be effective in reducing cortisol, thus making it a sound remedy for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders.
Those who recurrently suffer from headaches or migraines might be surprised to know that Shiatsu therapy can also be beneficial for the treatment of their condition. Evidence has shown that Shiatsu therapy can help diminish reliance on medication for those suffering from headaches and migraines.
Benefits of a Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu massages are not only beneficial to those seeking to improve their general health, they can also be useful to those looking to treat some of the conditions listed above.
The fact that shiatsu therapy is non-invasive and can be administered when the recipient is fully clothes, thus making it a greater alternative for those who are not comfortable with other kinds of massage therapies which require patients to be naked and require the use of massage oils.
Shiatsu massages offer more accuracy for the therapist to have greater control on pressure and placement. Depending on the area to be treated and the pain that is involved, a shiatsu therapist will be able to target sore and affected areas with great precision.
Shiatsu therapy can also help in resetting your energy levels by making you feeling more relaxed and generally less stressed. Shiatsu therapy has said to have a positive effect for women whose menstrual cycles are particularly painful or discomforting, as well as those facing difficulties in the course of their pregnancy, notably with regard to labor pain. Some women have reported that shiatsu therapy can help ease symptoms that are commonly experienced during pregnancies, especially back pain, nausea, as well as physical swelling. However, if you are considering shiatsu therapy and are in the course of your pregnancy, it is important that you first check whether or not you are eligible for shiatsu sessions with your doctor; they might even be able to help you find a qualified and reputable therapist.
Another often unsuspected benefit of Shiatsu therapy is it’s ability to improve the skin of the recipient which is achieved through tactile stimulation. Glands responsible for the secretion of the skin’s natural oils are stimulated through Shiatsu massages which can lead to greater skin elasticity, smoothness, and resilience.
Shiatsu therapy can also be a useful tool for those wishing to rejuvenate the look of their skin, or for those wishing to treat skin imperfections in an alternative non-chemical manner.
There is one final benefit that can also be obtained through the use of Shiatsu massage therapy. Shiatsu massages can also have the ability to affect and rebalance your mood levels. They can do this by manipulating your Qi flow which can help you achieve greater harmony and peace of mind, enabling you to become less stressed and generally more relaxed.
It should be however be noted that shiatsu therapy might not be suited for everyone. If you have any doubt about whether this type of massage is suitable for you and your needs, seeking advice from a medical professional should always prove to be helpful.
There are some side effects that can also be experienced with Shiatsu therapy, although most of them are usually only temporary. Increased tiredness, headaches or stiffness are not uncommonly experienced after the first few sessions of Shiatsu therapy. These symptoms typically only last several hours and are just a way for your body to signal it needs a bit of time to react to the change. If symptoms last for longer periods of time, contact your therapist or a medical professional at the soonest convenience.