What is Shiatsu Massage?
Many people are intrigued by the Shiatsu Massage style of massage, but have little knowledge about its principles or how it is traditionally practiced.
While a thorough examination takes a comprehensive look at Traditional Chinese Medicine on the whole, including the study of Chinese 5 Element Theory, the concepts of Yin and Yang, and especially “Ki” (Energy), I’m going to do my best here in the next few paragraphs to simply explain it at its most basic levels.
Shiatsu Massage is based on an ancient Chinese system of treating various health ailments and promoting health and vitality by balancing and unifying energy flows throughout the body. Its’ roots are in China, where it evolved more than 2500 years ago. In 20th century Japan it was condensed for more mainstream practice.
Unlike its cousin, Acupuncture, which uses needles, it is performed mostly using thumb and palm pressure along various energy meridians of the body, along with some stretching. Meridians are energy pathways that run through the body and the extremities, and correspond to various organ systems. For example, there are the lung, kidney and liver meridians. An excess or deficiency of energy in these energy pathways can lead to symptoms of various health problems.
Differing from a typical Swedish massage which uses oil or lotion on the skin to achieve the proper technique, Shiatsu does not require one to undress and is normally practiced over clothing. Most people find Shiatsu Massage to be relaxing, although it can be applied using extra pressure to relieve muscle tension (like a deep tissue massage), and if there are significant imbalances, some of the points may be tender.
Licensed Massage Therapists can and do practice Shiatsu, however those who have studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in depth, including Acupuncturists (Doctors of Oriental Medicine) are the most versed in the traditional form and practice. Shiatsu may also be incorporated into other types of massage, and its’ fundamentals play an important role in Traditional Thai Massage (to be discussed in a later edition!).
Body Well does have some Shiatsu massage practitioners available, so please contact us if you are interested in experiencing it for yourself! For additional information consider looking at some books at your local bookstore or Amazon.com for a wealth of choices.