To fully understand the benefits of shiatsu massage therapy, it is important to first know its history. Western medicine approaches illnesses as problems that need to be fixed, typically with a pill remedy. On the other hand, Eastern medicine believes the mind and body need to be in balance with their surroundings. Shiatsu massage is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine.
The Principles of Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu massage is similar to acupuncture in the sense that its history lies within ancient China; however, shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses stretching, kneading, pressing, and tapping techniques. It is performed without the use of oils.
The word shiatsu means “finger pressure” and shiatsu therapists use their fingers, thumbs, elbows, and knees to apply pressure along energy pathways of the body called meridian lines. Treatment may include stretches and rotations of the limbs and joints to encourage the flow of life force energy known as qi (pronounced “chee”).
Shiatsu works on the principle that energy moves through the body along meridian lines. When energy gets blocked or stuck, this results in physical, emotional, or psychological discomfort. During a shiatsu massage, the therapist manipulates pressure points and the meridian lines to remove blockages and restore harmony in the body.
Shiatsu helps the individual improve health and well-being, reduce tension and strengthen the body’s healing abilities. Pressure is applied in three ways:
- Vertical pressure
- Stable sustained pressure
- Supporting pressure
The Benefits of Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu massage has many benefits for the mind and body:
- Shiatsu can help relieve constipation when applied to the abdominal area. The stretching and pulling can loosen muscles and relax the intestines and colon.
- Shiatsu can eliminate muscle aches and spasms by rubbing and pulling at the skin and muscles and by pressing on acupressure points that release tension.
- Migraines are caused by a rapid widening and narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain or head, causing irritation and pain. Shiatsu helps to aid migraines by relaxing the body and increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body.
- Shiatsu is a non-invasive therapy that helps reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression by leaving you relaxed and calm.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the body’s tissue and attacks the linings of the joints. Pressure from shiatsu can be applied to hands, feet, or any area that is affected by arthritis. It also helps to warm up muscles, improve circulation, and reduce muscular pain.
- Shiatsu helps stimulate circulation in the capillaries of the skin’s soft tissues. The massage also serves to stimulate the secretion of the sebaceous glands that keep skin moist and smooth. This helps give skin resilience and prevents wrinkling. The improved blood circulation also helps improve the look and glow of the skin.
- Shiatsu has been used for thousands of years to aid women during monthly cycles and alleviate menstrual cramps. On the flip side, it has been known to help women in labor and babies turn in the womb. It can induce labor in women who are overdue and help ease morning sickness and swelling that is often caused by pregnancy.
- Not only does shiatsu help improve circulation and cellular nutrition throughout the body, but it also benefits the digestive system by allowing food to digest more easily and aids in waste elimination. It increases stamina by storing energy reserves and assists in fat metabolism and removal.
- Shiatsu helps those who suffer from fatigue and weakness by restoring and maintaining the body’s energy.
What Should I Expect During a Shiatsu Massage?
At the beginning of a shiatsu session, the therapist will evaluate the patient by getting a detailed case history of the current and past state of health. The state of qi needs to be known so the most effective treatment can be given for the individual.
During the session, a variety of techniques are used to manipulate the meridians. These include kneading, tapping, pressing, soothing, and stretching. If the patient has zero energy, techniques will be used to unblock and revitalize the energy flow.
If the patient is stressed or anxious, relevant techniques will be used to dispel the overload of energy. The main goal of every shiatsu session is to restore energy balance, promote health, and alleviate any conditions.
How Often Should I Get a Shiatsu Massage?
How often depends on your goals and current state of health. One session a month may be enough to restore balance for the average person.
However, if you have a high level of stress and tension in the body, plus an unhealthy lifestyle, once or twice a week is recommended to start seeing results quickly.
How Should I Prepare for a Shiatsu Massage?
Prepare for a shiatsu session by wearing loose, comfortable clothing. It’s best not to eat a large meal an hour before so you’re comfortable lying down for 60 – 90 minutes.
Also, think about your health goals and your motivation for getting a shiatsu massage. The clearer you are on that, the more you’ll get out of the session.
Finally, open up with your massage therapist about past and current health problems and stresses. This allows them to tailor the massage to suit your needs.
What Should I Wear to a Shiatsu Massage?
Shiatsu massage does not require the use of oils and is typically performed over the clothing. Therefore, wear loose, comfortable, and warm clothing such as yoga pants and a t-shirt. The massage therapy clinic you’re visiting might even provide clothing for clients to change into. It’s best to check with your massage therapist beforehand.
When Should I Not Get a Shiatsu Massage?
The majority of healthy people can get and benefit from a shiatsu massage. However, there are certain people who may want to avoid the treatment. These include people who:
- Have broken bones
- Suffer from burns, skin wounds, or rashes
- Have a fever or contagious illness
- Suffer from a blood cancer such as leukemia
- Have uncontrolled diabetes
Additionally, those with a minimal range of motion, have a weak immune system or have recently had surgery need to proceed with care. If any of this applies to you, talk to your massage therapist so they can modify the session.
How Do I Find a Shiatsu Practitioner Near Me?
It’s easy to find the best shiatsu massage therapist for your needs. Use the MassageBook directory to search for a business, individual, or massage technique in your area.
Check the pricing and availability. Then, book an appointment and receive immediate notification and a reminder the day before. MassageBook connects you with thousands of qualified massage therapists by specialty and location. It’s never been easier to get a shiatsu massage and start feeling amazing again!