Shiatsu massage therapy is a traditional hands-on healing therapy that was primarily developed in Japan over the last 100 years. It was based from the traditional Japanese amma massage. Shiatsu means "finger pressure" and uses natural body weight like fingers, thumbs, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet in applying pressure to specific points in the body. It moves from one point to another point in a rhythmical sequence. It uses rocking movement, stretching, and joint rotations in restoring the body’s health flow of energy ("ki"). It addresses the body as a whole rather than focusing on one area where the symptoms are most obvious.
The main goal of Shiatsu is to rebalance the ki energy, along with the meridians or channels. The surface touch accesses the meridians by using the points on the surface called "Tsubo". The excessive (Jitsu) or deficient (Kyo) ki energy are identified as the practitioner controls the movement in the body.
Shiatsu starts with the practitioner using examinations on the pulses, tongue, face, hara (the stomach area), and the spinal column to determine the kind of treatment to be used. The treatment is performed fully clothed, with the patient lying or sitting down. A session typically lasts for about an hour.
Practitioners use fingers, thumbs, and palms in applying pressure in a continuous and rhythmic sequence. Shiatsu incorporates techniques like pressure, holding, rubbing, heating, stretching, or a combination which can be firm and deep, but applied with sensitivity. This techniques give an all-over treatment aiming for the treatment of the patient on a very holistic level.
Shiatsu aims to promote the natural flow of ki energy and facilitate healing. According to the ancient Japanese tradition, blockages in the flow of ki energy may contribute to acquiring various illnesses or conditions.
It has been theorized that scientists that shiatsu massage helps calm the sympathetic nervous system which in turn stimulates blood and lymph circulation, reduce stress, and lessen pain. It is also said that it helps in increasing energy, promoting recovery from injuries, and stimulating the digestive system.
Since Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing therapy, it helps in preventing the buildup of stress and helps in protecting against stress-related conditions. Additionally, it is said to promote healing conditions such as: