What is shiatsu?
This Japanese art of healing stems from a self-massage system originally
developed in China and has been practised for more than three thousand
It is sometimes referred to as ‘acupressure’ as in Acupuncture without
needles, or a form of Japanese physiotherapy. Such descriptions
are partially correct. It is a complementary therapy working alongside
the primary healthcare system.
The literal meaning of Shiatsu is "finger pressure", however besides
fingers and thumbs, use is also made of the hand palms, feet, knees
and elbows to exert measured pressure upon the body. Other methods
such as stretching and rotations are also employed as a means to
improve the circulation of body energy and stimulate a healing response.
Shiatsu theory views the body as a holder of Ki (Chi). Ki is a form
of energy for which we have no real equivalent concept in English
or Western philosophies. When ki is moving smoothly and in an unrestricted
manner in the body, through organs, muscles, bones, skin and tissues,
in meridians(Ki channels), it gives us a feeling of being well.
The Oriental approaches to medicine do not separate mind and body
as we so often do in Western medicine. So along with this smooth
flow of Ki comes a spiritual sense of well being, of being happy
with oneself and one's life. At times, this flow of Ki can be disturbed
- an accident, a shock or bereavement, dietary excess or imbalance
- which can result in the body presenting this disruption in many
forms; pain, skin rash, loss of drive, emotional swings, spiritual
Depending upon the severity and length of time of the imbalance,
so the degree of the illness or state of discomfort. A Shiatsu treatment
aims to harmonise the balance of Ki and the balance between mind,
body and spirit, thus allowing the body to redress the physical
and/or emotional-spiritual discomfort and bringing about a healing
Shiatsu treatments can help various imbalances, stress related symptoms,
musculo-skeletal problems, backache, stiff joints, whiplash, sports
injuries, headaches, migraines, respiratory issues, reproductive
problems. You do not have to be unwell to benefit from Shiatsu.
It can simply be a pleasant way to relax and unwind - some private
time for yourself. Shiatsu is all about keeping the whole body in
balance and periodical treatments will help sustain this.
What happens during a
Shiatsu treatment has significant anecdotal evidence to support
its effectiveness in helping the body resolve many conditions. It
does not profess to cure all complaints but can help the body and
you on the way to a better state of well being. For example some
of the imbalances that Shiatsu has helped to alleviate are, back
ache, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, whiplash, migraines, arthritis,
menstrual issues, sports injuries, post surgery trauma, depression,
general tiredness, nervous system disorders, anorexia and asthma.
Shiatsu treatments can also be received purely for relaxation or
a general tone up.
The treatment begins with a discussion about you. All information
you provide is treated in the strictest of confidence. A further
physical examination is made by feeling the condition of the meridians
(Ki channels) and reflex zones in the abdominal area (hara).
The information is interpreted and together with you a course of
treatments to be followed is established. A Shiatsu treatment is
usually given to someone whilst they lie on a futon (cotton mattress)
on the ground. Comfortable, loose fitting clothing should be worn;
it is not usually necessary to undress.
People generally experience a treatment as pleasurable and relaxing.
The usual length of a treatment is 60 minutes. However the first
session will usually be 90 minutes to accommodate the taking of
a full medical history. At the end of each session any feedback
you may have will be discussed. Further advice may be offered such
as dietary recommendations, physical exercises, occasionally a referral
to a supporting therapy and perhaps other lifestyle hints and tips.
The number of treatments required is not fixed. It will be determined
by factors like, how long the imbalance has been around and how
you respond to Shiatsu.
Preparing for the session
Please wear loose fitting clothing (includes socks), preferably
of natural fibre and try not to eat a very large meal within 2 hours
of your appointment. Please also avoid drinking alcohol if possible
before or after your appointment. Drink plenty of water after your
appointment as this helps flush away impurities which are made free
in the body after a treatment It is good to avoid strenuous physical
exercises or saunas immediately after treatment