The Japanese word “shiatsu” means “finger pressure”, and as such describes precisely what the therapy is about.
Shiatsu applies pressure to the skin with the aim of preventing and curing illness by stimulating the body’s own natural powers. Fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet can be employed, though the majority is performed with fingers and palms. Shiatsu is a holistic therapy, which aims to balance the entire body and spirit.
Shiatsu works on the flow of Chi (life-energy) that circulates through the body through the meridians. It aims towards promoting a steady and unobstructed flow of energy, and rebalancing the flow where it has either become excessive or deficient.
Unlike acupuncture, Shiatsu has the direct contact and touch between patient and therapist, which in itself has a great healing and beneficial effect.
The therapy origins in Japan in the early 20th century, and is a combination of acupuncture and massage. Shiatsu is based on the ancient amma massage and involves western style techniques. There are many similarities to Chinese energy understanding and acupuncture and one can speculate that Shiatsu might be a simplified version of acupuncture and acupressure.
Shiatsu is characterised by the following:
- Diagnosis and therapy is combined. By applying pressure the therapist can detect abnormalities and instantly apply the right treatment.
- There is no use for other tools.
- No side effects, such as later muscular pains.
- No age limits, Shiatsu can be applied to all ages from young children to elderly people.
- Shiatsu is a health barometer, since treatment involved diagnosis.
- It deepens trust and reliance between patient and therapist, it is an exchange of energy.
- It treats the whole body which increases effectiveness.
It can be performed by all ages and strengths since it is a matter of communicating with the patient and applying precise pressure and strokes, as opposed to strong massage and movements. Even children can learn to apply Shiatsu to adults and do so successfully.
Shiatsu: A Practical Introduction by Oliver Cowmeeadow
The Complete Book of Shiatsu Therapy by Toru Namikoshi