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Shiatsu Massage: What Is It and How to Get One
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Shiatsu Massage: What Is It and Why You Should Get One

Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese form of bodywork performed whilst the client is lying on a futon mat, normally fully clothed. This massage usually involves stretching, palm pressure, acupressure and more. This article explains more of this in detail.

What is Shiatsu Massage?

Shiatsu is Japanese for “tightness” and this refers to the application of the kneading techniques, which aim to alleviate muscle tension in the body. Techniques vary considerably, but almost always involve stretching. Why is it recommended for pregnant women? One of the most well-documented benefits of Shiatsu massage is that it helps relieve pregnancy-related cramping.

Shiatsu can also be used in the womb, during pregnancy, to encourage the foetus to enter a relaxed position. Is it safe for pregnant women? Shiatsu massage is safe, although it can trigger mild feelings of numbness, as some have described, or make it more difficult to breathe properly. However, most women report a feeling of warmth and feeling of relaxation.

Differences with Shiatsu

Shiatsu massage techniques are relatively similar to other treatment methods, like physiotherapy, osteopathy, and lymphatic drainage.

However, Shiatsu specialists relate physical health conditions and illnesses to imbalances and blockages in the body’s energy flow. Like Acupuncture, Shiatsu uses energy channels (meridians), pressure points (tsubo), and other diagnostic methods without using needles.

This differentiates its treatment and diagnosis from other massage techniques.

What to expect from a shiatsu massage

Shiatsu in Japanese means “finger pressure”. This direct translation is rather misleading as some shiatsu massage techniques also make use of thumbs, hands, knees, elbows, forearms, and even feet to perform the treatment.

First, the client should be dressed in comfortable and loose clothing.

The therapist will ask you a few questions and use standard diagnostic procedures, like taking your pulse or examining your tongue, to prepare a specific treatment for you.

The client lies down on a futon right on the ground. A massage session typically lasts between 45-90 minutes.

Lying down on a futon in a small and silent room, with a masseuse gently massaging your legs, back and shoulders. It’s a very relaxing and soothing experience and one you will not soon forget.

Shiatsu massage makes use of the therapist’s thumbs, fingers, and palm to apply pressure to different areas of the body to heal common conditions and correct body imbalances.

The pressure applied generates energy flow and remedies the disharmonies throughout the body.

It regulates the autonomic activity of the nervous system and also stimulates the lymphatic, circulatory, and hormonal systems.

The therapist transfers their body weight during the treatment, which also consists of some stretches, pressure point manipulation, and other massage techniques while flowing from one movement to another as the client maintains a steady breathing rhythm.

The physical therapist usually leads the session, with the client’s active participation. You are also encouraged to hold yourself still during the treatment to help the therapist’s hands work out the knots in your muscles. The therapist will explain what they want to do with each part of your body.

With each part of the body, the masseuse will usually focus on a particular area and pay special attention to that area, which is said to be called the “target.” In other words, the masseuse will be working out the knots in your body while you are under the mat.

This may involve stretching and/or the production of new, larger muscles to reduce the pressure on the inflamed, sore areas of your body. This allows the therapist to move your body without causing more pain.

Shiatsu in Japanese (Kanji)
Shiatsu in Japanese (Kanji)

Benefits of Shiatsu

We all want both physical and mental wellness, and there are many benefits to massage therapy, Shiatsu and otherwise. And shiatsu massage is one of the best ways to reduce stress and boost our overall well being.

Shiatsu massage is a form of ancient oriental therapeutic treatment. It’s also said to improve blood pressure, promote pain relief, reduce stress, and help in faster healing particularly for joint and muscle injuries.

Shiatsu promotes ultimate relaxation

Shiatsu massage offers relaxation to everyone who experiences it. A study shows that 95% of the participants felt more relaxed after receiving the shiatsu massage.

Moreover, 54% claimed to have slept better after the session.

A session can potentially reduce heart rate and blood pressure and increase endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

  • Shiatsu relieves constipation
  • It is well known to ease muscle aches
  • Shiatsu also balances the energy in the body
  • There are various shiatsu massage techniques which focus on several ways to adjust a person’s qi or chi.

The most commonly used method makes use of acupressure points.

An expert shiatsu therapist can thoroughly detect variances in the body even before the symptoms are felt.

The subtle changes manifest an ongoing imbalance, and a Shiatsu therapist can store that much-needed balance before the symptoms appear or get worse.

There is a significant amount of scientific research around the benefits of Shiatsu. Anyone can basically get the Shiatsu massage, however for extra precautions, you can consult with your healthcare professional to discuss if it is perfect for your condition.

In conclusion

Choosing the best massage is really up to you. But generally speaking it makes sense to go to the spa where the masseuses have formal qualifications, high quality equipment, personal training and so on.

There are a lot of massage options, and you actually can get a combination of the massages mentioned above. However, if you are feeling aches in particular areas and feeling stiff, a shiatsu massage is recommended.

It is also the type of massage that promotes your overall well-being while keeping your balance intact.

It is worth noting that although a good traditional massage will be relaxing, if you’re looking to relax you may want to opt for a hot stone massage, which are generally more peaceful, intense and relaxing. Also, if you’re looking to remove tension in a different way, a shiatsu massage is the best way to achieve this.