What is Shiatsu Massage and is it Beneficial?

There are many forms of massage out there and shiatsu is one of them. It is not a brand name, but rather a type of massage originating in Japan with some Chinese influences. So what is shiatsu massage, how does it work and what are shiatsu massages good for?

What is shiatsu?

Shiatsu is essentially a type of physical therapy that comes from Japan. It’s a holistic practice, meaning it doesn’t simply focus on one aspect of the body. This type of massage targets both emotional, physical and spiritual health aspects. Shiatsu is supposed to aid the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Further, shiatsu is used to lower stress levels and improve overall health and mental/physical well-being.

Shiatsu Meaning

The word ‘shiatsu’ means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese. This has to do with the form of kneading, touch and pressure fingers exert on the body when performing this kind of massage. Using this finger pressure technique in a massage balances the flow of energy and even adjust parts of the body’s physical structure. Shiatsu massage is actually based on similar principles to Chinese acupuncture, where massagists exert pressure on parts of the body with the hands. So what is shiatsu massage?

What does Shiatsu massage mean?

Shiatsu massages are based on finger pressure manipulation and other techniques. These shiatsu massage techniques can even include massages with feet, palms, thumbs and fingers. Shiatsu massage also includes things like acupressure, joint manipulation and mobilisation, as well as assisted stretching. No instruments are involved to apply this pressure on the body during a massage. Kneading with palms and fingers is the primary part of a shiatsu massage. This application of pressure on different parts of the skin helps to correct internal issues, even treat specific maladies, and maintain good health.

What does shiatsu massage do?

The whole idea of shiatsu massages has to do with energy flow, known as Qi in Eastern medicinal practices. Shiatsu massage therapists say that any blockages or disruptions to the flow of energy in the body cause disease and illnesses. Similar to acupuncture, shiatsu releases energy from areas of the body that are blocked, and helps redistribute this flow of energy to areas that are low. Further, shiatsu practitioners and acupuncturists say that energy lines run all along the body and are called meridian channels. So, shiatsu massagists free energy around the body by stretching, kneading and exerting pressure on these meridian channels.

How does a shiatsu massage work?

By kneading, stretching and putting pressure on the meridian channels of the body, a shiatsu massage stimulates blood circulation. In turn, this helps to get rid of toxins and stimulate lymphatic flow, as well as ease away muscle tension. Thus, shiatsu massages work by exerting pressure and using the hands to move fluids etc. around the body and promote the flow of energy. This in turn helps the person receiving the massage to feel invigorated and/or relaxed.

Is shiatsu painful?

A shiatsu massage isn’t a painful one. Shiatsu is a gentler type of massage; though it’s true that touching certain pressure points may feel tender for some, it should never hurt. People call this tenderness that you can feel during a shiatsu massage a ”good pain”. In fact, a shiatsu massage is more likely to be pain-relieving rather than painful. This is because freeing the energy around your body and improving lymphatic flow and circulation are a natural way to relax, relieve stress and anxiety. Shiatsu massages are reportedly good at helping people cope with mental and physical pain, such as depression and even nausea. All in all, a shiatsu massage should lift your mood and aid relaxation, not cause pain.

What is a shiatsu massage good for?

A shiatsu massage can help with a number of things. Shiatsu practitioners recommend shiatsu for a variety of emotional and physical ailments:

  • Digestive and circulatory problems – A shiatsu massage will help improve circulation as well as help with the digestive process, so it’s great for those with digestive or circulatory issues.
  • AnxietyAs mentioned before, shiatsu massages promote relaxation and ease muscle tension by exerting pressure on points of the body. This can seriously decrease anxiety and lead to a sense of calm. For more ways to deal with anxiety, check out our top 5 anxiety tips.
  • Menstrual cramps – Shiatsu massages have a relaxing effect on the body and help to relieve pain as well as rebalance hormones. All this helps decrease the intensity of menstrual cramps.
  • Depression Shiatsu massages ease tension, promote relaxation and lower stress levels. They also help to lift the mood. All this can help those who suffer from depression, as well as promote more restful sleep and tranquillity. For more ways to cope with mild depression, see our article here.
  • Muscle pain – whether chronic or from physical exertion, these massages can decrease muscle pain. This is partly from the kneading of different muscle groups, as well as the improvement of blood circulation.
  • Migraines – These kinds of headaches can be caused by many things, some of them being stress and tension. Migraines occur when blood vessels in the head rapidly widen and constrict. A shiatsu massage will help to relax the body and promote circulation, which widens the blood vessels.
  • Stress – Regular shiatsu massages will promote relaxation in the body and different muscle groups, as well as reducing tension. This will help to lower stress levels overall.

Shiatsu massage benefits

Shiatsu massages have many benefits. And due to its holistic approach, it is suitable and beneficial for most people. Shiatsu massages help to maintain and regain balance throughout the body. This means it can be helpful whether you have an ailment or not. Many times it’s most useful as a way to combat and manage stress, or as part of a preventative health care routine. Shiatsu is a complementary therapy, meaning that if you suffer from a physical or emotional ailment, shiatsu will be most effective when used alongside your other conventional treatments.

Is shiatsu safe?

Shiatsu is generally safe for most. If you suffer from any kind of chronic pain, it’s advisable to ask your doctor before including shiatsu massages as part of your lifestyle. You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant. However, for the general population, it’s completely safe. Mild side effects of the massage may be sleepiness, slight muscle soreness and even a slight headache. But all these things should subside after a few hours.

After reading this you may have further questions about shiatsu techniques. Due to the pandemic, it’s unlikely that most of us will go out to get a massage. This could make you turn to shiatsu massagers, including chairs. Wondering whether these massagers even work? Are massage chairs good for you or is it just a hype? Check out our articles to answer your questions, and find out what the best shiatsu massage machines and foot massagers are in 2021.