Shiatsu is a type of massage that originated in Japan and is based on ideas that come from traditional Chinese medicine. In Japanese, the word ‘shiatsu’ refers to ‘finger pressure’. It is a form of manipulation of the muscles by the thumbs, fingers and palms. Shiatsu is performed without any instruments. It involves applying pressure to the body as a method of correcting internal malfunctions, promoting good mental health and treating certain diseases. Shiatsu techniques combine many physical aspects, including stretching, holding and using the body weight to stimulate various points along key channels. Leaning body weight is perhaps the most commonly used technique of shiatsu. Shiatsu has many benefits, and medical professionals all over the world have observed its effectiveness on the body.
How does Shiatsu massage work?
The thought process behind shiatsu goes along the lines of one of the most fundamental concepts of Japanese and Chinese medicine, Qi (pronounced ‘chee’). This is the vital ‘energy’ that runs through our body and underlies all functioning. By performing a shiatsu massage, a therapist can access the Qi through points often referred to as Vital Points. It is believed that when the Qi is either inadequate or out of balance, various unwanted symptoms arise. If this is the case, shiatsu can be used to stimulate the flow of Qi throughout the body and therefore better regulate it. The shiatsu therapist uses massage to rebalance the Qi to prevent any harmful symptoms from appearing.
What are some of the benefits of Shiatsu massage?
Those who regularly use shiatsu therapy have observed many benefits. Some of the common ones include reduced blood pressure, reduced heart rate, increased endorphins, reduced body pain and increased energy. Here are some of the most important benefits that can be observed through the use of shiatsu massage therapy:
Relief of Constipation
When applied to the abdominal area, shiatsu massage has been known to help relieve constipation. According to the health care providers at the Mayo Clinic, the stretching and pulling caused by the massage can loosen and relax certain muscles located near the stomach. This causes the intestines and colon to relieve constipation. For this method, certain pressure points are used to stimulate a bowel movement. Observation has shown that the time between the massage and the evacuation of the bowls varies.
Like many types of massage, shiatsu massage has been known to relax nearly every single person who has received it. According to research conducted by both the European Shiatsu Federation and the Shiatsu Society, nearly 95 per cent of participants involved in the study reported feeling calmer and more relaxed for a prolonged period of time following the shiatsu massage. In addition, the European Shiatsu Federation study showed that over 54 per cent of the group reported that they slept better after the shiatsu massage.
Relief of Muscle Aches
If you have tight, painful muscles, shiatsu massage can work the tension and spasms out of the muscles. Shiatsu combines various techniques, such as rubbing and pulling at the skin and muscles, as well as pressing on acupressure points that release the tension in muscles. Therefore, it can be very beneficial for muscle aches. The European Shiatsu Federation study showed that more than 85 per cent of participants reported a relief in muscle aches. It was recorded that they felt better about symptoms such as muscle tension, back pain, joint pain and posture problems.
Shiatsu practitioners have reported a number of other benefits among their patients. Although these benefits have not been extensively studied, and therefore no concrete proof of their existence is available, traditional medical professionals have reported that shiatsu does provide multiple benefits and no real harmful side effects when practiced correctly. Shiatsu massage has been known to help relieve problems such as symptoms related to PMS, the side effects of chemotherapy, migraines, various stomach and digestive problems, and skin problems.
Styles of Shiatsu
There are a number of styles of shiatsu, and depending on your particular medical condition, a shiatsu practitioner may advise one over another. Many early shiatsu practitioners developed their own individual styles over time. Some of these older shiatsu professionals founded schools that teach their particular style of shiatsu therapy. These professionals include people like Tokojiro Namikoshi and Shizuto Masunaga.
Today, there are a number of styles of shiatsu, each of which comes with its own philosophical approaches and theoretical bases. Each style is evolving, and new approaches to treatment are being established all over the world. Some shiatsu practitioners concentrate on acupuncture points, while others focus on more general work on the body. Some emphasise the importance of the pathways of energy in terms of influencing the Qi that flows through them, while others are more interested in the various pressure points and muscles in the body.
Each method and style of shiatsu is based largely on traditional Chinese medicine. Zen Shiatsu, Macrobiotic Shiatsu, Healing Shiatsu, Namikoshi Shiatsu and Movement Shiatsu are some of the more common styles found today.
If you are suffering from a particular physical problem, talk to your medical professional about what shiatsu massage can do for you. Most medical practitioners will say that there are absolutely no harmful side effects in trying shiatsu massage for assistance with aches and pains or digestive issues.